Huntsman Off The Trail

Today, Jon Huntsman dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination for President and endorsed Mitt Romney.  It’s not exactly an earth-shaking development.

Huntsman was remarkable mostly because he was the only Republican in the field who really never had his moment in the limelight.  In a year when many Republicans seem to be looking for an alternative to Mitt Romney, no one really ever looked Huntsman’s way.  He never made an impact in the debates, he never caught fire in the opinion polls, and he therefore never had the chance to crash and burn like other candidates in the field.  After spending lots of time and money in New Hampshire, he finished a limp third.  No wonder he decided to toss in the towel.

I doubt if Huntman’s endorsement of Mitt Romney will influence many voters.  The main impact of Huntsman’s departure will be to eliminate another podium and another suit from the stage during those interminable Republican debates.  For that, at least, American voters can be grateful.

Our Do-Nothing Congress

President Obama has indicated that his 2012 re-election campaign will focus on a “do-nothing” Congress.  Now a Washington Times analysis finds that 2011 was, in fact, one of the most inactive congressional years ever. Congress passed only 80 bills — the fewest since 1947, when such records first began being kept — and many of those bills were non-substantive.  The House was far more active than the Senate, which experienced the most futile, unproductive legislative year ever.

I don’t think you can assess the performance of a Congress by simply counting how many new laws were enacted.  Quality, not quantity, should be the measuring rod.  Yet even by that measure, our Congress has been a colossal failure.  Last year saw the United States lose its AAA credit rating and rack up enormous deficits that are adding to our already staggering national debt.  How did our legislative leaders respond?  They created an ad hoc “supercommittee” that allowed them to punt on the issue, the “supercommittee” couldn’t reach agreement, and as a result another year slid by without anything meaningful being done to address our headlong rush to fiscal ruin.

No rational person can defend the pathetic performance of our Congress.  I’m not sure, however, that President Obama stands to benefit much by pointing out how little has been accomplished.  He’s the leader of the government, after all, and he ran in 2008 as someone who could bring people together.  That hasn’t happened.  Emphasizing that Congress is hopelessly deadlocked and inert, while true, just reflects poorly on President Obama’s leadership abilities.  He hasn’t been able to forge a consensus, build support in the country as a whole, or find an alternate way to deal with urgent problems like the debt.  If President Obama is just going to throw up his hands, why should we return him to office?


The Winter Fat-Burning Workout

We’re all eager to shed some of those lingering holiday pig-out pounds.  The best way to achieve your goal is not to go to your health club or workout facility, but to head out into the Great White North, where there are plenty of ways to lose that weight and tone your flabby carcass.

The snow shovel lift and hurl:  Shoveling snow is like the Bow-Flex of winter outdoor exercises — it can involve virtually every kind of motion and form of exercise.  Lift your shovel.  Bend at the waist and apply force to your shovel to scrape the driveway clean.  Lift that heavy load of snow.  Twist with your torso and hurl the snow onto the piles to the right and left.  Hope for that magical combination of weather factors that cause ice and wet snow to freeze to your shovel, increasing the weight of each shovel-load by a factor of ten.

The windshield stretch and scrape:  Retrieve your cob-webbed scraper from the dusty recesses of the garage.  Use the scraper to chisel ice off your car’s side windows.  A vigorous up-and-down motion works best.  Then, stretch as far as you can over your snow-bound car and scrape the snow and ice from your windshield and back window and ponder the inevitable question:  why do they make the scrapers so short?

The icy walkway balance beam:  Venture out onto the icy sidewalk, walking with tiny, mincing steps to try to maintain maximum contact with the frozen surface.  Then, react with lightning speed to deftly regain your balance when you begin to slip.  Bonus points if you can do a pirouette without falling.

The sleet avoidance car dash:  Sleet is the worst of all weather conditions, a devilish combination of rain, snow, and ice.  Don’t just stand there getting pelted — run to your car in the Wal-Mart parking lot!  And pray that a benevolent deity guides your footsteps, so they don’t inadvertently find that hidden patch of ice.

Remember, bundle up = weight down:  Dress in layers — it’s cold out there!  After a few minutes of hard shoveling, though, you’ll be overheated, your heart will be pounding, and you’ll be sweating like a blast furnace worker.   Your knit cap will be sodden and you’ll pull at that scarf that now seems to be choking you.  Oh, and your nose will be running, too.  In fact, “running” really does not begin to describe the gushing flow pouring out of those red, flaring nostrils.  With all of that moisture leaving your body through every possible route, you’ll be assured of massive water weight loss!

Now, get out there — and feel the burn!