By Tony Russell

... Read more at tonyrussell.blogspot.com

"Welcome to the U.S. Diving Championships. I'm your host, Diane Berry, and here with us today to add his unique perspective is four-time U.S. champion and sports columnist Rick Really. Rick, this shapes up to be a spectacular event, doesn't it?"

"It sure does, Diane. Everybody has been pointing toward this one. The Republican team, which will be wearing red suits, has been taking dives for six years. The Democrats, who will wear blue, are playing catch up, but they've taken some incredible dives since winning a majority in both houses of Congress."

"So we're looking for close votes by the people who will serve as judges?"

"No question about it. At this point, Congress ranks even lower in the polls than the president, voters are depressed by how unrepresentative their "representatives" are, and turnout is on a steady decline. I look for the winner to be decided by a handful of votes among the few voters who show up."

"Wonderful, Rick. Are there any divers we ought to keep our eyes on?"

"There sure are. In recent weeks we've seen some absolutely unbelievable dives taken by a group of Republican senators. They've been in panic mode with Mr. Bush's unpopularity acting like a heavy anchor chained around their necks"

"Let's take a look at some of those dives to show our viewers what you're talking about, Rick."

"Okay, Diane. Our first clip here is Susan Collins. After years of support for Bush's war, she joins with Chuck Hagel in announcing here that she will back Democratic legislation ordering combat to end next spring."

"Her timing is beautiful on that twist, isn't it?"

"It certainly is. We'll take a quick look here at Gordon Smith, Pete Domenici, John Warner, and Olympia Snowe, each talking about switching his or her position—and then, in most cases, ending up voting to back the president rather than support a change. That's a very difficult double flip technically, where the diver is actually rotating backward and forward at the same time."

"The Republican divers look awfully impressive, Rick. How does the Democratic team match up?"

"Well, first up, take a look at Nancy Pelosi, shown here going into the tank on impeachment, immediately after being elected Speaker of the House."

"Wow, that was mind boggling!"

"No question, Diane. But don't think this is just a Pelosi show. The Democrats owed most of their resurgence in this last election to voters' expectation that they would end the war in Iraq. Mr. Bush has just ignored them, as usual, and done as he pleased. There's a simple solution: the Democrats in Congress could just refuse to vote more funds for the war. A simple majority vote. But they've taken a vast collective dive on the issue."

"A collective dive?"

"You heard me right. Wait until you see this! This next clip here will knock your socks off! It's really a stunning sight to see over two hundred Democratic members of Congress, hands joined, coming off the boards simultaneously and hitting the water without making a splash."

"That's fantastic! How did they do that?"

"Well, the trick is that instead of cutting off funds, they keep offering proposals to set timetables for beginning a withdrawal, modify tours of duty, and so forth, and then water them down by making them non-binding. They can't get the votes to actually pass any of them, but they can pretend they tried to do something and then blame the Republicans for defeating the bills."

"So the Democrats are picking up points with those dives?"

"Fewer than they expected. Republicans, on the other hand, use this trick: if the bill has no binding elements, they dismiss it as meaningless; if it has specifics, they reject it as tying the president's hands."

"They have beautifully controlled spin on that move, Rick."

"They do. Their coach, Karl Rove, has made that one of his trademarks."

"You know, watching them, I'm just amazed that these politicians do all their diving in the shallow end of the pool."

"None of them want to get in over their heads, Diane, or go off the deep end, so they dive down here in the portion normally reserved for small children."

"Let's talk about the diving conditions, Rick. There have been complaints circulating that the water has been muddied."

"You'll get that in any political contest, Diane. The divers are not only used to it, but they actually prefer it that way. There does seem to be an abnormal amount of money being laundered in the pool, however, and that has raised concerns. Some critics have charged that it has a toxic effect on the level of democracy. But the Supreme Court just recently gave the go-ahead, saying all that corporate money was allowable, so it looks as if we're all set to go. In fact, millions of dollars more are being pumped into the system even as we speak."

"Does the money have any effect on the divers themselves?"

"There's no medical evidence to that effect, Diane. People around the divers have sometimes talked about the money 'going to their heads' or 'rotting their souls,' but that's just anecdotal. There are no double-blind studies to confirm it. As you can see in this next clip, most of them actually enjoy having so much money in the pool. Look at them wallow in it!"

© Tony Russell, 2007

... Read more at tonyrussell.blogspot.com

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