Observing US:
A column about America,
by Marylaine Block
originally published by
Fox News Online, 1998-2000

#24, January 6, 1999


by Marylaine Block

It seems clearer to me every day that Viagra was not the miracle drug we needed this year. As Christmas has passed without the traditional NBA game, and without peace and good will in either Baghdad or Washington, I have come to believe that the drug we really need is one that reduces excessive public testosterone.

It's not that there aren't plenty of men in this world who are thoughtful and rational. It's just that they are not the ones in charge right now. In these three cases, the men in charge are posturing, staring each other in the eyeballs and saying "I dare you."

The NBA owners have money on the line, while the players have self-respect at stake, and neither side will concede an inch -- the owners figure they don't have to, because they can afford to sit it out longer, while the players, knowing there's no game without them, won't put up with being dissed and played for suckers. The longer the lockout lasts, the greater the sacrifices each side has made, the more each side has invested in WINNING.

That's what's going on between Clinton and Saddam too -- "You'll do what I say or else," versus, "Oh, yeah, just try and make me." Saddam backs down, runs and hides his missiles (if he has any), then sticks out his tongue again until teacher is ready to whomp him once more. And because the situation was set up as a battle of wills from its inception at the end of the Gulf War, it's hard for our male leaders to envision a better solution.

And then there's Washington. Leave aside the fact that if it weren't for an excess of testosterone, Clinton and [Speaker of the House] Livingston wouldn't be in this mess. What Washington has just treated us to is a series of pissing contests.

There's the one between Ken Starr and Clinton: "You will surrender every right of American citizenship so I can investigate every single thing you did for the past 25 years" versus "I'm the president, dammit, you can't do this to me."

There's the one between Clinton and Congress: "It's our right to bring impeachment charges" versus Clinton's "What I did was tacky, not impeachable."

There's the one between the hard-line Clinton-hating Republicans and the moderate Republicans: "Vote our way or we'll make sure you lose your next primary."

There's the one between the two chambers of Congress, where the House tells the Senate not to go for a quick deal on censure, because they're obliged to look at the evidence, and the Senate tells the House to butt out, because now the ball is in their court and they'll do what they want with it. Now that the process is in motion, nobody can be sure of the outcome.

None of these people are worried about "collateral damage" to the incidental victims -- the ticket-takers and vendors, the bystanders in the Clinton investigation, forced to spend huge amounts on lawyers. Nor are they worried about damage to the system itself.

But they should be. It's a real question whether what's left once somebody has won will be worth winning.

Will there still be a Republican party? Will there still be any voters?

What we need here is fewer balls and more brains, less viagra and more cold showers. The games these guys are playing, whether basketball or politics, exist because we pay for them. Remember us? The ones who buy the tickets, and pay the taxes? That's us, standing on the sidelines, frantically waving and saying "We are tired of being peed on."

These guys think they can get away with it because they think they're the only game in town.

But you know what? We've found other ways to spend our time while the NBA's been out of commission. And when Minnesota's voters elected Jesse Ventura governor, they sent a message that we no longer have to choose between staying home on election day or voting for two big equally brain-dead parties that ignore our wishes.

If Pfizer can invent a drug that moves the decisionmaking process about three feet higher up in our glorious leaders, they will deserve every penny they make on it.

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