The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Opinion

October 19, 2013

Editorial: Box score mentality hurts Americans

Box scores aren’t solely reserved, it seems, for sporting events.

As a U.S. default was averted earlier this week and government reopened, the talk in Washington immediately turned to finding out what parties and politicians were the winners. And who were the losers.

Washington, you see, has this press box mentality where stats are kept not only on home runs but on assists and errors.

President Barack Obama and his White House won, in that his health care overhaul stayed intact and the debt ceiling was lifted. Speaker of the House John Boehner lost as his Republican Party couldn’t halt Obamacare or halt the renegade tea party members who put their convictions above political deal-making. But the tea party advocates didn’t win because they didn’t stop the Democrats.

Somewhat like a football defensive line — the winner was the guy who didn’t blink first. Cute sports analogies could go on and on but Washington gamesmanship isn’t the kind that sells tickets or develops true fan bases.

Washington’s games hurt Americans — not the government workers who will be paid for the 16 days they were out. But the tourist who wanted to go to a national park or the person who needed to file a critical form with the federal government.

The shutdown hampered economic growth, not just for 16 days for the damage done to America’s credibility around the world.

Within hours of resolving the crisis — to face us again in January — the “loser” said there were no winners in the games. The “winners” also toned down their victory, a bit, by attempting to draw the average Joe into the battle. For example, Obama said Americans were “fed up” with Washington. Over how many shutdowns have we been hearing that?

The new bill approved this week will fund government through Jan. 15. The debt ceiling borrowing authority expires Feb. 7, though the Treasury Department could use special accounting measures to extend it for a month.

Americans are more than fed up with the so-called brinkmanship that went into a 16-day battle — a game that Washington seems to love.

For the rest of us, we’re tired of this arena where politics focuses on winning and losing with little concern for the people who paid the politicians’ entry into the game.

The box score mentality in Washington must come to an end.

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