When I was a little boy, I loved the sports books of John R. Tunis. There were villains in his books, of course, but nobody remembered them; they remembered his straight-arrow athletes, pure of heart, fleet of foot, nimble of mind, who could conquer whatever Fate threw at them and emerge on the winner's podium at the Olympics, triumphant in the World Series, champions of the Rose Bowl.
But in one book that I was particularly fond of, no sports were played. There was a sports hero: the local high school basketball coach who, in a previous book, had to suspend the star player for breaking rules, but managed to win the state championship anyway. He had decided to resign from the faculty and run for mayor because crooks had taken over city hall. Underfunded, opposed by the Power Structure, he urged the people to join him in making "a city good enough for Lincoln." That was the book's title: "A City for Lincoln." Of course he was elected, and he took the oath of office pledging to form a "government of the people, by the people and for the people."
Back then we believed that the pure of heart who played clean always won; that we had the kind of democracy that put its best and its brightest into office to form a government "good enough for Lincoln"
And then we grew up and went out into the real world and we learned that life ain't like that.
I wonder what Honest Abe would have said if he'd still been President yesterday when the Republican Senator Lamar Alexander said that if we passed health care reform, “for millions of Americans, premiums will go up.” This is every bit as much a lie as the "death panels" the Republicans conjured when the first health bill went to the House floor.
The Republicans had ample time to finally craft some solid proposals for meeting the expressed wants and needs of the American people: affordable health care for every American. What they offered at the White House summit was the same arrogance, ritualistic slogans, lies, distortions, playground bullying and childish nonsense that they have been feeding the American public for nearly a year now.
"Good enough for Lincoln?" What they gave us yesterday was an x-rated performance, an obscene parody of government. Tunis's straight-arrow basketball coach would have thrown every one of them off the team.
After reviewing the Republicans' history of lies and obstruction on behalf of profiteering insurance companies, Nancy Pelosi gave us a sports metaphor worthy of Mr. Tunis: "We have lived on their playing field all this time," she said. "It's time for the insurance companies to exist on the playing field of the American people."
Or else what we'll have is a government "good enough for Lincoln National Insurance."