Thursday, December 30, 2004

Visionary Leadership

My column got printed on Dec. 27 instead of in the weekend "Lack of Perspective" section. I'm back from Ukraine, safe and sound; more on that once the jet lag wears off. The newspaper version is available here.

East Valley Tribune, Dec. 27, 2004

There are some cranky newspaper readers (I realize that demographically, that’s redundant) who say that I’m just always complaining but never have anything positive to say. Well, having studied the transcript of our president’s most recent news conference, I’ve decided it’s time for me to show similar positive, visionary leadership. Here goes.

I can be the same kind of leader as George W. Bush. You already may know that I think his proposal to “end Social Security as we know it” is complicated, expensive, and unneeded nonsense.

But he’s a leader, right? And he’s got a mandate, right? And he got a mandate for his plans, whatever they may turn out to be, to trade Social Security for the opportunity for you to negotiate complex insurance and annuity policies, right?

Well, I can show that kind of leadership, too. Of course, “you’re not going to get me to negotiate with myself.” I’m not going to get bogged down in details and take positions, so “don’t bother to ask me.” After all, “Congress writes legislation,” and “I will negotiate at the appropriate time with the law writers, and so thank you for trying.”

So just as the president can say he’s going to do all sorts of unspecified-but-wonderful things to make Social Security cost less and pay more, I too wish to unveil my bold leadership plans to the upcoming Congress, letting those folks write legislation that gives the American people my vision of what they want.

On Social Security, I agree with the president; we shouldn’t raise taxes or cut benefits for current retirees, those near retirement, and those who may be thinking about being near retirement. Like Bush, I, too, boldly support getting something for nothing and leaving it to Congress to invent the required financial perpetual-motion machine.

But why stop with Social Security? My bold visions also include ending obesity in America. I believe everybody should be able to eat all the chocolate they want without gaining any weight. My program is strictly voluntary, so people who don’t like chocolate can choose to eat cookies or pie instead.

Those are my ambitious goals, and I look forward to negotiating with those who write legislation to make sure that every American, especially those now retired or nearing retirement, can eat more and not gain weight.

I also believe that I have a mandate to deal with Arizona’s increasingly onerous parking problem. Didn’t driving around the mall parking lots this holiday season make you sick from the wasted fuel, time, and effort spent looking for a space? I believe that every American deserves to park right next to the mall entrance, in a space that’s safe, close, and free.

If we do nothing, then current projections say that by 2042 it’ll be impossible for you to park any closer than yards away.

Those are my principles, and I see no reason to start taking specific positions or get bogged down in details just yet. I intend to spend my political capital on this bold vision of each and every American getting a parking space right next to the mall entrance. It’s up to Congress to translate this vision into legislation, and I look forward to working with them in making it happen.

Finally, I also believe that high school sports are the veritable foundation of American life, but too often, the enjoyment that students and their families derive from competition is limited because in any contest, one team must lose. That may build character, but we really know that it’s winning that matters, and it’s so much more enjoyable, too. I have a vision of an America where every team wins every time. I don’t want to negotiate against myself; it’s up to lawmakers to draft legislation to translate this bold agenda into reality so that we preserve sports for future generations against the emotional downer of losing.

I look forward to passage of the “Everybody’s a Winner Act,” because it makes just as much sense as what President Bush is saying about Social Security.

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