Missing the fairway


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What Tiger Woods should have said: Usually, I drive better than that.

Not that I spend much time worrying about what Tiger Woods does or does not do. In fact, I don’t spend much time thinking about golfers or golf at all. I tend to agree with Mark Twain: Golf is a good walk spoiled (or words to that effect).

And besides, there are so many world-shaking items to think about: the coming surge of U.S. troops in Afghanistan (as I write this, President Obama has not yet officially announced the troop increase, but I’m going to go out on a limb: Other NATO nations have announced they’re going to send another 5,000 troops to that troubled [to use the polite word] country, and they wouldn’t do that unless the Obama administration had promised a U.S. troop surge), the seemingly endless health-care debate, Iran’s nuclear policy, whether the Hawkeyes will get into a BCS bowl.

The last item is probably the biggest deal around this town right now, which should give one pause.

OK, we paused long enough.

If Penn State noses out the Hawkeyes for a BCS berth, the state of Iowa should seriously consider seceding from the United States.

All right, that’s maybe just a tad over-the-top. Maybe. But were that to happen, the yowling in Hawkeye Nation will make the shouting and screaming in last summer’s town-hall meetings on health care seem like a polite murmur.

You have to admit, that’s some yowling. And it would distract us from more important issues, such as Tiger Woods’ driving habits and Obama’s turkey-pardoning habits.

Yes, last week, the president took some time out from fretting about Afghanistan to follow the “presidential tradition” of pardoning a turkey before Thanksgiving. (As Gail Collins of the New York Times points out, the “tradition” dates all the way back to 1989 and the first President Bush. Hmm.)

And as Obama himself said:

“There are certain days that remind me of why I ran for this office. And then there are moments like this, where I pardon the turkey and send it to Disneyland.”

Even if you don’t like him, you have to admit the guy has a sense of humor.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the health-care debate crawls on. That debate will probably still be crawling along when your great-grandchildren are wondering how to take care of your grandchildren.

Most days, the health-care debate seems less like an actual debate and more like Sisyphus trying to roll that boulder up that hill (in case you missed the last episode, the boulder always rolls back down the hill — it’s a pretty riveting series).

One of the sticking points seems to be the “public” option, which, through the magic of Congress, seems to be much less public than the word “public” might suggest — there are something on the order of 45 million uninsured people in this country; the House health-care bill would cover around 6 million, the Senate version, 4 million.

Even that puny bit is a bit too public for those on the right, however. And that would include some of our very own medical students, who have established a group to promote “private” health reform — free-market reform.

Well, I have a modest proposal: If those medical students really want free-market medicine, they’d surely support the Carver College of Medicine separating from the UI and becoming a private, free-market kind of school, instead of being a public (there’s that naughty word again) school. Hmmm. I wonder what would happen to their tuition.

And, of course, they’d no longer want any naughty public research money from NIH or any of the other U.S. government agencies that fund scientific research. No, no, if the free market is to rule, it must rule everywhere, which means private (read: corporate) research funding. Which means, naturally, that most research money would dry up; most corporations would consider much of the research pie-in-the-sky because it has no immediate practical application.

Just a modest proposal. I, too, am far more fascinated by Tiger Woods’ driving habits.

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