Father Knows Best.

June 11, 2012

I called him up just the other day
He said, "I'd love to, Dad, if I can find the time
But it's sure nice talking to you, Dad
And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
My boy was just like me
And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
When you comin' home son?
You know we'll have a good time then.
-Cats in the Cradle, by Harry Chapin

. . .
Whirlwind weekend. Capped by Father's Day. And all of its Hallmark moments. Just kidding.
If a man is the king of his castle, then mine was a castle besieged.
Awoke at 5:50 AM to the puppy's cries. At 6:30 AM, a neighbor began ringing the doorbell. Incessantly. Puppy was still crying. Only on a chain. Outside. "Do something..." She demanded. Not even a "Happy Father's Day, Jeff!"
The day unfolded from there. Awoke to a home filled with guests. Went to breakfast. Attended basketball games. Diverted to Dinner.
Perhaps the closest this king came to a gift was that of the new puppy, Turk, besotting the already maligned carpets an additional two times. Turk is the Joe DiMaggio of carpet urination. His consecutive days streak during which a rug has been peed upon may never be broken.
Yet, it mattered little. I was able to spend the day with family. Brunch with my father, who is an equally extraordinary grandfather.
Like most everything on this wondrously beautiful, oft flawed, and mysteriously spinning geological mass, Fathers have a mixed track record.
Adam, a little too taken with Eve, disrespected his father. He paid a heavy price. One day, paradise. The next? A wife, two children and a mortgage. How do you like them apples?
Oedipus killed his father. Then married his mother. Note to self: never, ever marry your mother. Once she becomes your wife she'll never do your laundry again.
Goya depicted Saturn devouring his son. Fearing he would be overthrown by his spawn, Titan Cronus ate each of his offspring upon their birth. One by one. Not my recommended means of avoiding college tuition. But effective, nonetheless.
For the most part, however, fathers have been consistently seen and depicted as proud, loving family stewards. Teaching their children how to navigate the world, and all of its dynamics.
Good fathers are capable executives. Patient teachers. Willing companions. And stern mentors.
Father's have a calming effect. A Mike Brady-esque ability to walk into the eye of the hurricane and pacify all elements. Wisdom, wit and a willingness to listen, learn and love. Traits of successful father's.
We inhabit a world desperately in need of a strong paternal hand.
The Greeks yet again stepped back from the abyss by choosing the EU and austerity over nationalism and going it alone. At least for now.
Germany has showered Greece with tough love. Fatherly advice.
"Get your house in order. Spend less. Live within your means."
Yet the Greeks continue to rail against the idea that they cannot have their cake and eat it too. Time will tell as to whether Greece's New Democracy Party can calm what has become a family in chaos. Time will tell whether Germany can reunite the European Family and save the continent's grand experiment.
Good fathers generally find a way to reunite even the most wayward children. Angela Merkel may be the best father Europe has had.
The alternative (read nightmare) scenario for Europe is that Father Germany strays from the fold. Decides he might like to try his luck as a single man. Leave the family and its issues behind.
France, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Italy, et al, would be free to continue their profligate ways. But, dad's big pockets would no longer be there to finance their frequent trips to the mall. Things would spiral. Quickly. Families in turmoil, lacking parental guidance, do not often recover without massive counseling. Bankruptcies. In-fighting.
Germany, you created this family. Had children. Made a home. Let's hope you do the responsible thing.
The eurozone is not the only familial unit lacking proper guidance.
The U.S. economy continues to slow. 10 of 16 leading economic indicators failed to meet expectations last week.
President Obama strikes me as an incredibly bright, capable man. He loves his family, and they him. He is a wonderful father to his daughters.
Yet, as father of a nation, he is failing. I hope he can turn it around. Steer our weakening economy to higher ground. Though, I fear he cannot. His ideas for delivering our once proud family back to the nice side of the tracks have, thus far, missed the mark.
His staunchest supporters would blame this recent economic slowdown, the third of his four-year term, on a stubborn Republican Congress. An opponent intent on blocking his every move. True, the Republicans have been equally inept in dealing with our economic and fiscal incertitude.
But, when the family is in turmoil, responsible fathers hold themselves accountable. And take charge.
During his first two years in office, Democrats provided President Obama with nearly everything he wanted. He was denied only on his cap and trade and union card-check policies. And many would argue that these policies would have adversely impacted the nation's already ailing economy. Congress passed stimulus. ObamaCare. Multiple housing bailouts. Dodd-Frank. And more.
In return, the nation has been dealt economic stagnation. Is threatened with recession amidst currently weakening leading indicators.
These last three and a half years have seen scant economic improvement.
Government spending increased 7%. National debt has risen 45%. Unemployment has risen over 9%. A gallon of gas has risen in cost by over 100%. Household healthcare costs have jumped 12.5%.
Some of these problems stem from the Bush era. But, nearly four years into his first term, a rationale thinking electorate cannot continue to blame everything on this president's predecessor. Enough is enough. A good father must be a capable executive. Understand the family's finances. Know how to complete a budget. And stick to it.
A good father promotes the ideas of accountability. Shared and individual achievement. Unity.
I have seen a steady decrease in these national qualities of late. I've witnessed the increasing Europeanization of our economy. With nearly fifty percent of households receiving some form of government handout. I've seen our once vaunted form of rugged individualism diminished. The reduction of our once proud sense of accountability and achievement.
Our political duopoly, and its respective leadership, more resemble Lindsey Lohan's father than Ward Cleaver. And we, as a nation, are the beneficiaries of this wayward parenting. We have been spoiled. Praised for our most meaningless achievements. Forgiven for our massive failures.
Regardless of what transpires in November, President Obama will continue to have a hand in our nation's affairs for decades to come. But, perhaps it should be in the role of a proud and respected uncle.
In November, this nation will be up for adoption. I can only hope we end up in capable hands.

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