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Predictable Behavior…..Well Of Course It Is!


As the NFL regular season comes to an end this weekend, literally millions of fans are wrapping up their “fantasy football” season.  Fantasy football is basically an opportunity for all of us who play to select certain players and assemble a team.  The selection process involves researching past performance and predicting future performance.  It’s a lot of fun.  Last year I was league champion, this year I was beyond horrible in two of my leagues.  However, I am leading the pack in the league where all we have to do is predict the winner of the game…. over 71% this year!

A thorough knowledge and understanding of past events is usually a good place to start when trying to predict future events.  Predicting behavior of those in the political arena is significantly easier than predicting winners and losers in athletic contests. 

The actions and reactions of our elected officials are not restrained significantly by competition.  What they do, or what they say is not immediately opposed by a 235 pound linebacker who is in a very bad mood.  Politicians don’t get immediately thrown to the ground as they make their way through the games they play.   Usually, the game of politics has no immediate repercussions.  I don’t recall reading any article calling attention to the fact that a politician received a concussion for wandering unprotected into dangerous territory!

Let me give you a perfect example of the “freedom” with which our politicians play their game.

About 3 months after 9/11 on December 22nd, Richard Reid attempted to blow up a plane full of American citizens by using a very specific type of explosive liquid.  Richard is now known as the “shoe bomber”.  You can thank him for the fact that you have to take your shoes off when you are being screened prior to boarding an airline flight.

The similarities between his failed attempt and the December 25th attempt on a Delta Airlines flight headed to Detroit are really amazing.  Take a look at the similarities in these two events.  There are, however, differences that should also be pointed out.

The explosives used in both attempts were similar if not exactly the same. In addition,  both culprits were apprehended by a combination of civilians and airport security.

At the time of the attempt, President Barack Obama was on vacation in Hawaii.  At the time of the previous attempt,  then President George Bush was on vacation in Texas.

President Obama made a same-day statement about the “attempted terrorist attack”.  It does not appear that President Bush made a similar same-day statement.

President Obama made  significant public statements after evaluating the events and conditions that led to the attempt.  He made his statements within three days of the event.

President Bush made his first public statement after evaluating the events and conditions that led to the attempt six days after the event.

President Obama specifically addressed the situation and specifically noted that there had been a failure in communication that allowed the incident to occur.   President Bush mentioned the attack only in passing.  There was no significant attempt to address the causes or place blame.

President Obama made his statements while on his holiday vacation.  President Bush made his limited statements only after returning from his holiday vacation.

Richard Reid was tried in Federal Court, convicted, and currently resides in Federal prison.  President Obama intends to put the most recent culprit in the Federal Courts, convict him, and send him off to Federal prison.

Now comes the fun part.

While researching the history of Democrat responses to the first attack, there has been no discovery of any attempt to complain about the actions of President Bush.  No comments about waiting so long to respond.  No comments about trying the individual in Federal Courts and placing him in Federal prison.  There seems to be no attempt to gain any type of political advantage during the situation from Democratic circles.  There is nothing atypical about the Democrats lack of response.  Democrats tend to be more reserved and timid about using national security issues for political gain than the Republicans.

This is where the similarities end.  Tom Ridge, who served a very significant role in our post-9/11 government has slammed President Obama for stating that our latest attempted terrorist should be tried in Federal Courts.  I will remind you that Tom Ridge, was Director of Homeland Security and as such was involved in the efforts to put Richard Reid on trial in Federal Courts and sentence him to Federal Prison.  Let me get this straight Tom, it was right for you to do as you did, and wrong for President Obama to do the exact same thing when presented with nearly identical circumstances?  Do I have that clear in my mind Tom?  Of course you expect the terrorist to be sent out of the country to a location where American law is not in effect.  Oh that’s right Tom, you helped to set that place up didn’t you? 

Dick Cheney is following a similar pattern of attack. Well of course Dick!   Once again, he is complaining about President Obama’s stance on trying the culprit in Federal Courts.  Cheney is continuing his ranting about President Obama’s weakness on national security issues in spite of the fact that while as Vice President he agreed with the exact same course of action as undertaken by the Bush Administration.  Do you think we don’t remember?  Or do you just hope we don’t? 

There are two Republican congressmen who have been particularly critical of President Obama, Reps. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) and Peter King (R-N.Y.).  Both complained bitterly over the airwaves that President Obama waited three days to make his comments about the latest incident.  Basically, he took too long to respond, he is weak, doesn’t he realize we are at war?  He responded from Hawaii a region that some people barely consider a state.  President Bush responded from Texas, where men are men and politicians are tough.  Republican Administrations are tough!  Oops, he didn’t respond from Texas!  He waited until he was back in Washington.  Sound familiar?   They did this even though “their” President, George Bush took twice as long and made a statement of very little significance.  Pete Hoekstra went so far as to use Obama’s “tardiness” as the centerpiece for a significant fundraising effort calling on his base to send money to his campaign.  I wonder Pete, if the plane had crashed, would you still have used the event to raise funds?

If anything, this is an example of the political inconsistency that has plagued our leadership for so long.  However, anyone who even remotely understands the nature and intensity of current public debate could have predicted this with ease.  It is easier to predict the responses of political operatives than to predict the outcome of any football game. 

The performance of those who make their living in the political arena is predictable because it is rarely opposed in ways that have immediate and meaningful consequences. 

In football, a linebacker in a bad mood can impose his will in a matter of seconds.  Stray into his zone with the ball and face the consequences.  Trust me, you will pay a heavy price for not paying attention!  Politicians rarely have immediate and meaningful consequences.  Unless you consider the disgust their behavior brings to those watching to be meaningful.  Quite honestly, they could care less about our disgust.  Until they want our money to re-elect them!

Here are a few possible reasons why politicians behave in ways that are so absolutely transparent and predictable. 

  1. The payback for a politicians behavior is often delayed and probably nonexistent.  There are no political linebackers ready to exert their will into their existence. 
  2. Politicians have a lack of regard for the ability of their constituents to think rationally about any issue.  Basically, they think we are ignorant.
  3. Politicians are so enamoured with their position in life, and their political power, that they forget prior statements and events that, when brought to light, make them look ignorant and unfit for office.
  4. Politicians think no one is looking.  (Basically, very few are looking)
  5. Politicians will use any issue, regardless of effect, to score political points. 

We are the referee’s in this game.  Referee’s throw flags and blow whistles when the rules have been broken.  Those that we elect to represent us, rarely acknowledge our presence.  Truthfully, they think the referee’s are stupid.  I can think of no other explanation.   If you have one, I would love to hear it and consider its validity.

Was “the right’s” response to the December 25th attempted terrorist attack  predictable?  Anyone who doubts that fact just isn’t paying attention.  I would be a rich man if I was able to lay money down on their behavior.  I dare say that I would have 100% accuracy.  Rarely do they fool me with their responses.   Alas, I am constrained to competing with my friends to predict the winners of football games.  The games have no real consequences.  But then, neither do the actions of certain politicians.

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