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Brackets, debt, war and worry

Last week, President Obama filled out his NCAA men’s basketball picks in front of numberless cameras on a giant bracket board, undoubtedly paid for at taxpayer expense, bearing the Presidential Seal. This was apparently done to show that the President is an ordinary, sports-loving guy. At the same time, the country is 14.3 trillion dollars in debt. (St. Francois County’s share, to remind you, is $2.3 billion – undoubtedly more than the county’s annual GDP). At the same time, the United States government (i.e. the government the President is the head of) is operating without a budget. The fiscal descent occurring before our eyes is a national disaster.

The Observer does not know how long the President took to decide on his picks, but let’s say it took an hour – less than a minute for each pick. The national debt went up $171 million in that time, a fact which did not appear to bother the President, who jotted down his picks sometimes cheerily, sometimes seriously. No one begrudges this President, or any president, a moment or two of relaxation. But there simply must be something more important for the President to do in the midst of this ongoing fiscal catastrophe than try to figure out if Morehead State is going to beat Louisville in the first round.

Here’s something else that happened last week: The United States went to war in a new place. Everybody in the Administration is avoiding the word “war,” just liked everybody in officialdom avoided the word “war” in Korea. It was a “police action.” But the truth is that when you’re dropping bombs on people and shooting their planes out of the sky, it’s war.

Over the weekend, right in the midst of the President’s NCAA crisis (he had Pitt, which lost to Butler, going all the way to the Final Four), the President sent out one of his military spokesmen to talk about the war that they won’t call a war. One of the things the spokesman said is this: “The goal of this mission is not to get rid of Gaddafi.” Well, what in the world are we doing bombing Libya if not to get rid of Gaddafi? Of course we’re there to get rid of Gaddafi, or we’d better be. If we don’t get rid of Gaddafi, what are we going to do? Just walk away from a country full of people armed to the teeth and at each other’s throats. Raise your hand if you think that will end well.

The President obviously thought long and hard about the newborn war in Libya because he immediately … took a trip to Rio. “Hello, Rio,” he shouted as he waved and smiled his Hollywood smile at the teeming Brazilian crowds. He was in great spirits. Apparently, Pitt’s loss didn’t bother him too much. Good thing. The Observer would hate to see the President overburdened with worry.

The Observer is a resident of Farmington.

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