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Steve Eaton: Is political back pain going to send this country off the fiscal cliff?

Published: Monday, Dec. 17 2012 3:30 p.m. MST

Could Chutes and Ladders be a face-saving way to break this impasse over the fiscal cliff?

Associated Press

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I can’t move.

Well, actually, I can, but just a few minutes ago I couldn’t move. I think my back “went out.” I don’t really know what that means. All I know is that I was sitting at my desk, minding my own business, when suddenly I couldn’t sit back in my chair or move forward without it causing way more pain than I’m prepared to deal with.

I called out for my wife. She tried not to laugh at me. She brought me four pills and after about 15 minutes I was able to move a little. Since then I’ve been walking around as if I’m a character in a Bruce Willis “Die Hard” movie who is wrapped in explosives. I’m moving very carefully because I know I could blow up with new searing back pain if I as much as sneeze the wrong way.

Until now the last time I had to deal with serious pain was when our last child was born and my wife pulled my bottom lip over the top of my head to give me insight into what she was experiencing. (Bill Cosby joke.)

I’m no good at pain.

Back pain is a mean affliction because it’s really hard to get good sympathy when it strikes. You don’t bleed or foam at the mouth, you just freeze in place, like you are playing a children’s “Stop! Freeze!” game. I am so adverse to pain I try not to even move my lips when I get a back pain attack. Like a ventriloquist, I try to explain how very, very grave my condition is, but when you talk like that, for some reason, people just don’t take you seriously.

It would probably be better if I could just put my arm or a leg in a cast every time I was suffering from back pain. People universally recognize broken limbs as real afflictions.

I wonder if our politician friends in Washington, D.C., are experiencing a sort of political back pain. They have discovered that no matter what they do, if they move, it causes them great political pain, so they sit on opposite sides of the aisle, hoping someone will bring them some pills to make the pain go away.

The Republicans really don’t want to raise taxes on their rich friends and the Democrats feel like they’ve got to move forward and tax someone or their hopeful supporters will want another change. They each are sure they are on the moral high ground.

To save face, why not have some sort of nationally televised contest with the winner being given the right to completely control the country’s car just before it goes off the fiscal cliff? It could be a football game pitting the actual representatives, senators and White House types against each other.

President Obama could play quarterback, but he couldn’t have any Secret Service guys tasing the other team. America loves football and can you imagine the joy Republicans would feel to see President Obama get hit hard and go down with a big crunch?

We could put Mitt Romney back in the game. I’ll bet he has some pent-up frustration he’d just love to take out with a hard run up the middle. I’m guessing 47 percent of Democrats wouldn’t even get in his way. The television ratings for the event would go through the roof.

But that approach would generate a lot of very real pain for our fearless leaders, so I’m not sure they would go for that. And yet it seems like there should be a face-saving way to break this impasse with a simple contest we could all watch. Rock, paper, scissors? Chess? Chinese Checkers? Synchronized swimming?

And don’t tell me it would be beneath the dignity of President Obama and Congressman John Boehner to play Chutes and Ladders to determine the future of the country. People already see all of this as political game playing. And if we go off that fiscal cliff, we are going to wish we had chutes and ladders.

If both sides are afraid to budge or work for solutions for the good of the country because of the political pain it might cause them, maybe we should have them all wear arm casts, neck braces and sport bandaged heads. Every time they experienced political pain they would get a new cast or bandage.

Eventually it would look like a really bad mummy movie. It probably wouldn’t change anything, but it would make press conferences more entertaining. It may even prove quite frightening to other countries to see our leaders all bandaged up and staggering about like that.

I think I’m on to something.

I’m going to get up and march to our nation’s capital and find Mr. Smith, who already went to Washington, and tell him … Ouch! I can’t move. I’m stuck!

Someone get me a leg cast!

Steve Eaton lives and works in Logan, Utah. He can be reached at Eatonnews@gmail.com

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