Monday, January 5, 2009

The Dallas Cowboys and the Federal Government

No, “America’s Team” is not about to be bailed out over their miserable failures, but they do provide a good parallel for what happens in our federal government.

In good years and bad, the Dallas Cowboys receive more media attention than any other professional football team. In years where success is highly anticipated, the sports media begin asking, “What are the Cowboys chances of winning the Super Bowl this year?” This was especially true in the summer of 2008 when teams were reporting to training camp, and the Cowboys were coming off a 13-3 regular season in 2007, only to lose their first playoff game - a squeaker to the eventual-champion New York Giants. During the off-season, the team roster remained mostly the same: Golden boy quarterback Tony Romo and glitzy wide receiver Terrell Owens were the anchors for a team loaded with stars. In fact, they even added talent to the team with the addition of troubled but talented defensive back Adam “Pacman” Jones. In other words, the team was primed to set the football world on fire. The Cowboys were a cinch to make it to the Super Bowl.

But reality set in. The Cowboys head coach, Wade Phillips, a squishy and affable man, but not the authoritarian required to police million dollar egos, proved himself to be nothing more than a figurehead and the team was without a real leader. The owner is oilman Jerry Jones, who has just finished construction on a new $1 billion stadium set to open in 2009 and who routinely overpays players and has no problem with players frequently arrested (Mr. "Pacman" Jones has never been convicted of any crime, but has been arrested in the double-digits).

The team began the season well, three wins in their first three games, but once they hit a little turmoil: injuries and the usual bickering between teammates that occurs during a long season, the team began to fall apart.

So how does all this relate to the federal government? Well, like the government, the Cowboys get all the attention anyone could ask for, but continue to deliver lackluster results. In what was supposed to be a Super Bowl year, the team ended up with 9 wins, 7 losses, and lost their spot in the playoffs. In a slap in the face to Cowboys fans everywhere, when the team walked off the field after the regular season loss (44-6, a win that gave their opponents in that game, the Philadelphia Eagles, a playoff berth) that eliminated them from playoff contention, players were seen trotting off the field, some having a chuckle amongst themselves. Instead of mourning a busted season, they did not let their failure get the best of them.

Again, what does this have to do with the federal government? Try this on for size: They have a hated and incompetent boss (owner Jerry Jones), promised ones who don’t deliver when it matters most (Romo and Owens), people who are more about ego than their job (Owens), criminals fill their ranks (the oft-arrested Adam Jones), untold millions spent on a product that ultimately fails (expectations of a Super Bowl but a 9-7 season with no playoff berth), and when it all fails, no one gets replaced.

That’s right, after only two seasons as the coach, and two seasons that ended as remarkable failures considering the expectations, the Cowboys organization announced that it would be keeping Mr. Phillips on as the head coach. The organization has also reported that they will be making “big changes” to the team, but none have been made yet and none have even been suggested.

Does this not sound like our federal government? Barack Obama ran a two-year campaign in which he repeatedly claimed that things were going to be different, that the corruption and embarrassment of the Bush administration would be forgotten, appears poised to do exactly what the Bush administration spent eight years accomplishing.

In the spring of 2008, President Bush touted a $152 billion economic stimulus package, in money borrowed from China, that was erroneously called a “tax rebate.” Economic conservatives bemoaned the passage of the act because, while it may have seemed like it would help the economy, it would only have to be paid back later, with interest.

So, considering how that economic stimulus did not have an impact on the economy, and did nothing to stop the calamities of Fannie, Freddie, Citigroup, etc., doesn’t it make sense for President-elect Obama to want an even bigger stimulus package to help the economy? If some didn’t work, then more must work, according to that logic. Yeah, about $850 billion.

Or does anyone remember how Mr. Obama deplored the course taken by President Bush in invading Iraq, a helpless country that did not attack us? He told us he wanted an orderly withdrawal within 16 months of his inauguration. It’s one of the main reasons Mr. Obama won the Democratic nomination. So what does the new president plan to do? Not withdraw troops from Iraq, but shift 30,000 of them to Afghanistan, bringing the total to approximately 60,000 soldiers in a theater that has already been lost.

What Mr. Obama seems to be saying is that it is wrong to invade a country like Iraq, that did not attack us, but it is right to continue an invasion of another country, that did not attack us, Afghanistan. Orwellian and counterproductive indeed.

Could this be the Cowboys template? If it doesn’t work, don’t fix it!

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