I don't watch much preseason football - hardly any, in fact - because they aren't real games. They are practice sessions that teams use to see if the game plans they have been working on actually work in game day type situations.

Right now, I feel as if the debacle about the healthcare reform effort that President Obama is pushing these days is getting the same amount of attention from me. Make no mistake, though - when it comes time to suit up against the opposition, I'll be watching the healthcare debates in Congress like I watch the NFL during the regular season on Sundays.

If Obama, who is a sports fan, can take anything from the world of football in the ongoing scrum that our national healthcare debate has become, he needs to look at the things a team does when it is behind. When the plays it is calling aren't working. When the players themselves are not executing their individual roles well enough to capitalize on their strengths.

He needs to go back to the run.

Football coaches go back to the run when their teams are in trouble because it settles the players down. Because it is a low risk way to advance the ball a few yards at a time. And because it can help the offense stay on the field long enough to get back into a rhythm that is productive again.

The run, in this case, is a chart showing how healthcare costs have risen over the last forty years. The graphic visual should be everywhere. I'd replicate the angle in lapel pins, in T-shirts, on baseball caps, on coffee cups.

Because the thing we are looking to do is pull the rising end of that line down to a more level trajectory.

This symbol idea sounds stupid, but until you can show me a stadium full of people wearing fake calculators on their heads they way they will wear fake cheese; until you can show me people who are willing to rabidly yell "30% savings!!!" the way they holler "Da Bears!!!!"; until you can visualize people walking with t-shirts that say "cost containment is cool" the way they wore those t-shirts that said "yes we can" - until you can show me, in other words, how to get people excited about the abstract and arcane minutia that it will take to get started on a major overhaul of our healthcare system, you are pretty much waiting on a Hail Mary pass to pull this thing out.

A Hail Mary pass, you may recall, if you watch a lot of football, is a pass that doesn't win very many games.

* * *

I've been kind of silent on this healthcare reform effort the last couple of days, partly because one of my co-workers went on vacation, leaving her high maintenance partner-in-crime with nothing better to do than aggravate the shit out of me the last couple of days, which has cut back on my daytime doodling and brain storming, but mostly because I realized a few days ago that amid all the hoopla about who said what about whom, our media had lost any interest in disseminating the facts.

For once, though, I can't say that I blame them. As my illustration above alludes to, you don't have football fans cheering about page 137 in the playbook - what you have are legions of fans who are willing to cheer the SYMBOLS of a team, like its mascot or its trademark, all day long, regardless of whether the playbook that helped to put points on the board was six pages long or six hundred.

Even if the healthcare reform effort were to pass in toto while retaining all the important elements around which it was originally designed, it would only be the first step to bending the healthcare curve downward.

Which is why I have all these charts in this post, just so you can see for yourself how...what's the word I'm looking for here - "ubiquitous" sounds like it - yep, that ubiquitous angle that is almost identical on practically all of the charts I googled earlier tonight.

So some of you more ambitious, entrepreneurial types who read this blog should see this lazy, sideways looking, two colored "V" the way the marketers at Nike see their famous swoosh symbol - as something that, properly magnified, screen printed on shirts and embroidered on hats, can come to represent more than a set of plot points on a graph.

When you see people painting their index fingers and their middle fingers so they can show you where they stand, if they are across a room by themselves or en masse in front of the cameras at a townhall rally, the two painted fingers proudly held in a sideways "V" across their chests the way this Iranian woman below

holds her painted finger aloft in a derivation of the classic "V" for victory pose, you will know at that point that you have achieved your goal.

The gauntlet has been thrown down.

We'll see who will pick this sideways "V" idea up and run with it.

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Anonymous said...

First of all, let me congratulate you on yet another excellent post!

The healthcare debate seems to be broken down into two different strategies, on the one hand, those that support it are attempting to convince the public with charts, statistics, and for the most part, an honest assessment of where we are and where we need to be.

The other side of the debate is content to just randomly blurt out incendiary remarks with little or no basis is fact (the latter more often as of late). In addition, they combine this nonsense with even more nonsense about Obama's birth certificate, nazi affiliation, and even a little anti-Christ comments sprinkled in for good measure (btw can I just say spelling isnt a forte of theirs?). As if that wasn't bad enough, now every yahoo feels the need to bring a loaded gun to these discussions.

How in the hell can anyone discuss, debate or otherwise engage on any issue with crazy?

John, over at the Daily Show said something in one of his segments the other day (paraphrasing here):

"In the past it has always been the President who disappoints us with their lack of vision, intelligence and ability to lead. Do you wonder if President O is looking at this nonsense and feels a sense of disappointment in Americans?"

Rick Beagle

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