My nation trotting tour stops this week in the City of Brotherly Love, otherwise known as Philadelphia. Sights to see here include Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and just across the river you can take a tour of the USS New Jersey. The weather matches the somber mourning pall that has fallen over the city since it became clear there would not be a dual championship after the Eagles snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

For the record, I can neither confirm nor deny that a certain PD editor has been sighted holding a lonely vigil outside Veteran’s Stadium with a hand lettered sign calling for the public flogging of the Eagle’s head coach. But I digress.

The comparisons of politics to football are many, and I never tire of making them. Most football fans (avid or otherwise) have gotten used to the fact the average running play ends in “three yards and a cloud of dust”. Very seldom does the runner bust through the line for a big gain in the secondary. It’s just the nature of the game. Most running backs average under three yards per carry. Even the outstanding backs only pull down average numbers in the fours or fives.

The game of politics is much the same. The Founders designed a system of government where three branches are constantly struggling for preeminence over the other. Even when the legislative and executive branches are led by the same party, most legislative efforts end up in three yards and cloud of dust. Every now and again, external circumstances (September 11 being the primary example) enable major legislative and policy shifts to be accomplished in quick fashion. Those are the “big plays”.

Barack Obama wants to accomplish as much of his presidential agenda as possible through the big play. This is evidenced by Rahm Emmanuel’s post-election pronouncement:

Rule one: Never allow a crisis to go to waste. They are opportunities to do big things.

Right now, Obama’s big play centers around the $800 billion to $1.2 trillion “stimulus” package. The actual amount is, like most things Obama, nebulous. What’s a few hundred billion among friends anyway?

To listen to Team Obama, the fate of the entire world rides on the quick passage of this “stimulus” package, though just how stimulating (economically) it will be is very debatable. The folks over at the Wall Street Journal have taken a look at just some of the details and have come away a few stops short of impressed.

Time is not on Obama’s side here. The longer it takes for him to shove and shepherd this package through the grinding halls of Congress the more people like The Pelosi, Dusty Harry Reid, Barney Frank, and the rest of the left leaning legislative branch will load it up with train loads of pork masquerading as economic stimulus. The more time the American people have to watch the sausage being made, the less likely they’ll be willing to eat it, much less buy it.

Obama isn’t helping himself much winning friends and influencing people. His justification for blowing off Republican suggestions buy noting “I won” irritated many of the people he was trying to co-opt. Had W taken this tone, he would have been branded as “arrogant”. Obama gets away with it and basks in the label of “cool and confident”. He’s even gone as far as to pick a fight with El Rushbo. In days past it was considered conventional wisdom never to pick a political fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel. Limbaugh has nothing better to do for three hours a day than to lambaste Obama before his millions of listeners. The more details that surface about Obama’s “stimulus” package, along with the controversial executive orders will make Rush’s show prep an easy task – and that’s even before SlowJoe Biden starts running his mouth.

The more Obama does this kind of thing, the more likely it is that his Hail Mary pass will end up with him scrambling forward for three yards and a cloud of dust. Slow methodical progress does eventually end in a score. The only problem with that game plan is the fans are asleep and the commentators have started talking about the latest episode of 24 by then.

Obama rode into office with stratospheric expectations for instant hope fueled by immediate change. Three yards and a cloud of dust isn’t what he signed up for, but if the Republicans can garner even a small measure of backbone it will be what he gets most of the time.

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