How about a little less drama and a little more leadership?
Nancy Jo Tubbs

Some family therapists use a three-character behavior model I’ve found fascinating. I wonder, if we applied the theory to the roles politicians play in the ongoing fiscal-cliff, budget-meltdown soap opera, that we could set the roles aside to adopt a healthier “family” dynamic on today’s political stage.

Have you met, sweet Nell Fenwick who’s perennially tied to the railroad tracks by the Snidely Whiplash and soon to be freed by the dashing Dudley Do-Right? If not, be sure to check out a 1960s Rocky and Bullwinkle segment to witness the classic victim, persecutor and rescuer roles in action. Almost everyone mistakenly plays these roles at times. Stephan Karpman first introduced family therapists to that “drama triangle” in 1968. You’ve seen his three dysfunctional characters in cartoons, novels, TV dramas, possibly in your own kitchen and certainly in today’s political arena. What makes the roles so slippery is that we move from one to the next in politics’ daily drama. Perhaps we should introduce a fourth, more functional, character. I’ll get to that one in a minute.

When we lose a fight, are criticized or otherwise get kicked in the pants by others, we may take on the victim role, then turn around and try to kick that blame on down to the next person. Victim turns into perpetrator. Perpetrator turns victim. No one wants to be the final loser, as evidenced last week when $85 billion in federal budget funding cuts were triggered by the “sequester.” The Congressional Republicans and President Obama blamed each other in attempts to not be the last one kicked.

The sequester was a leverage tool that Congress and President Obama agreed to when the participants could not find common ground on how to reduce the debt ceiling in 2011. The upshot was an agreement called the Budget Control Act, which said that if Democrats and Republicans didn’t come to a deficit reduction agreement by March 1 of this year, automatic budget cuts would slash $1.2 trillion out of the federal budget over 10 years, starting with $85 billion out of the $3.5 trillion budget in 2013. Obviously neither party would be willing to carry out the promised 7.3 percent cut to military spending and 5.1 percent to domestic spending, and the two parties would negotiate a compromise.

But the lever didn’t work. Sequestration kicked in and the blame game began. You’ve likely heard parts of it. President Obama claimed that the budget cuts are the fault of Republicans who refused to negotiate, and that the resulting federal work reduction will start a bees’ nest of stinging consequences: Teachers and food-safety inspectors laid off, park employees and air traffic control centers understaffed, 750,000 jobs lost and a drop in GDP growth of 1.25 percent.

Republicans claimed that the sequester was the President’s idea in the first place and that another agreement, effective Jan. 1, to raise tax rates on earnings above $400,000 for individuals and above $450,000 for couples was the last time Republicans would accept tax increases as part of any negotiation. Besides, they contend, the cuts will mean a mere 2.2 percent reduction in irresponsible government spending.

Which brings us to the third player in this drama, the rescuer. That, my friends is sometimes you and me. Rescuers are those folks who pick a side, take up the banner and shout from the sidelines for our representatives to never give an inch. Instead of being willing to support compromise, we tend to see our political side as the underdog and play Dudley Do-Right to poor Nell, tied to the railroad tracks once again.

Rather than buying into the blame game as a victim, persecutor or rescuer, we need to introduce a leader into the paradigm. No one wants to be stuck in one of the first three roles, but it takes gumption to step out of them, take responsibility for our parts in the play and do sustained leadership.

Members of the Congress and the White House will have a chance to do just that now that they are again in charge of spreading the budget cuts around—we hope in such a way that the country functions securely and sustainably. They’d need to do what leaders do. First, they could create a vision of what cuts and sustainability look like for businesses and workers, for the wealthy, middle class and poor, for children and seniors, and for a right-sized military.

They’d need to be able to agree on the vision and effectively communicate it to each other and to the public in order to set a new budget in play. Perhaps, the most difficult task will be to put aside just enough of their party loyalties and personal ambitions to define, work toward and accomplish that vision of national unity.

The possibility of indiscriminate hacking of military and domestic spending threatens the country’s economic recovery and is still heading toward us down the tracks like an overdue freight train. I’m pretty sure that playing the victim-perpetrator-rescuer game won’t save poor Nell this time. Leadership is the only thing that will.

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56 comments on this item

Wow! I don't agree with Ms. Nancy typically, but She is on the money in this case. We need strong leadership. We need vision. We need folks invested in the long term best interests of all of us individuals, and our country.

Good luck to us.

Methinks the vision envisioned by Ms. Nancy ... and that of Mr. S ... are not the same. But then ...

Let me get this right.

Sequestration has resulted in more unemployment. Obama administration.

Bureau of Labor Statistics reports today, the unemployment rate went down from 7.9% to 7.7%. Obama administration.

All the data comes from the Obama Administration. Methinks the head doesn't know what the tail is doing.

Check your watch and calendar! (hint hint hint)

March 18, dark houses must be removed from the lakes. Deadline is 12 Midnight.

I can't believe we have gotten to this ridiculous place, sequestration, refusals to raise debt ceiling and pretenses that the deficit is an emergency requiring deep cuts but no revenue.

The federal deficit has fallen faster over the past three years than it has since post-WW2. Before that, the only time the deficit has fallen faster was when our economy relapsed in 1937.

Jed Graham, Investor's Business Daily, "Here's a pretty important fact that virtually oblivious to: The Federal deficit has never fallen as fast as it's falling now without a coincident recession.

One of my favorite scenes in "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" is Neal and Del driving on the wrong side of the highway oblivious to other drivers screaming at them, "You're going the wrong way!"

Bonfire ... don't know about you, but I found our gun friend's last comment on the other thread about the most ignorant (meaning simply ignoring the world around him) thing he could state. So far the best he seems able to do is throw his opinions out ... and in the meantime imply that when one states facts, they cannot be trusted and used because they are "so biased".

To me, the saddest part, is that folks who think like this ... whichever side of the political fence they may live ... must vote with the same lack of having done any critical analysis and thinking. None.

I've also noticed ... and sometimes in my attempts at critical satire I too am suspect ... that rarely do folks comment directly about the editorial, letter or opinion piece. They must serve their own agendas and make their own points ... however unrelated to the issue presented.

jt: You can't resist it, can you? I see where Duluth just experienced it's third murder by knife in less than a year. What? No outrage from you and bonfire? It's time for a national registry of kitchen knives and I would support that.

Facts? Once people become aware of the details that the "universal background check" entails, the approval rating falls dramatically to 35%. And that is a fact, you must accept it.

jt, It is typical and all too predictable. The bubble world is safe and easy with all the "answers" they want given to them. One would think with SS/Medicare, Veteran benefits, etc on the line, er table, and so many conservative seniors living on the edge, they would start paying attention to who is trying to preserve those earned benefits and who wants to whittle away at them until they are itty bitty toothpicks. Paul Ryan, Ayn Randbot, keeps rolling out his Medicare voucher plot insisting that it won't hurt seniors, it's "premium" support....on private health insurance, for pete's sake. I am utterly fed up with hearing "entitlement reform" over and over again everywhere in the media which just means make the middle and lower classes pay for no changes in the very wealthy's tax rates, loopholes, etc. It couldn't be plainer. Boehner, McConnell won't meet with Obama until he and the Dems agree to no tax revenues whatsoever.

So I don't know why people aren't more questioning, blind trust? Can't let one doubt sneak in because one would have to start being skeptical of everything? Maybe it is a zero-sum game view, if one gains, the other loses. I've noticed that a lot of folks feel they deserve their hard earned SS/Medicare or whatever benefit they get but those other folks don't.

Old Russian joke: A sorcerer offers a peasant a single wish. The peasant hates his neighbor who has a cow and the peasant does not. "Kill my neighbor's cow", the peasant demands.

It just depends whose ox is getting gored. Gun control freaks don't mind goring their neighbors ox, but don't want their ox gored.

Bonfire ... see what I mean!

jt, I didn't realize that human coexistence is nothing but a competition of who gets the golden goose and who gets the booby prize but perhaps I have misunderstood, lol. And then that pesky projection thing always drops in.

How about Paul Ryan's massive budget farce? It's less than 24 hours since he rolled it out and it's so transparently ridiculous that even rightwing media are saying it's unrealistic and not going to fly. Ryan said, "It's not how you balance a budget but why." and he can't explain either. Oy.

$4.3 trillions in spending cuts with NO revenue to "balance" budget in 10 years, mathematically impossible and even if possible, increases the deficit. Of course, he does count Obamacare $716,000 savings (that he and Romney ran against) while at the same time saying he wants to repeal Obamacare which has a snowball's chance in a heatwave of happening. Also drops wealthy tax rate from 39% to 25% while big cuts to food stamps, Medicare,Medicaid and much more. Wait, how do those programs for middle class and lower class count as spending but all the fantastic tax breaks to the very wealthy and corps don't? Word games.

It's hilarious to hear Ryan and other Republican legislators pretenses they want to support and help the "47%", save Medicare, etc for them. Sure they do. A title to an article I saw yesterday summed that scam well, "Love You to Death".

Mr. Bonfire, Just a couple things. "middle class and lower class as spending{I assume your talking about program cuts here} breaks to the very wealthy and corps don't?" This should be obvious, spending is, money that leaves the treasury. If less money for a program leaves the treasury it's a spending cut. Tax breaks are moneys that don't even get to the treasury, it's your money. Unless you think it's the governments money and they will give you what they think you should get.

I get you don't like the Republican plan, that's your right. My question is where is Obama's plan? He has had 4 years and no plan unless you count spending as a plan. I mean a plan that's on paper, not him talking about it.

I understand the Democrat Senate has a budget, first one it 4 years. There is talk that the budget contains a trillion dollars in new taxes. How much in new taxes are you prepared to pay?

I almost forgot, "$4.3 trillions in spending cuts with no revenue to balance...." If you have true spending cuts why do you need new revenue{taxes}? The treasury is spending less, we don't need new taxes.

There are times when font sizes and type colors might help.

JayBerg, Obama has no budget plans? Ha, ha. Now you are just trying to mess with me or it's your idea of a joke. oth, just in case you were actually serious and missed the exit onto the information highway many, many moons ago, here's a hint: Oh gosh, what was the name of that budget?...thinking, thinking...Oh yeah, it's called "The President's Plan".

Bonfire ... shame on you. You should realize that mr. jayberg is quoting from the Fox News talking points. (Now, what again was that study about those who get their news from Fox???)

Bonfire, I was taking about a serious budget plan, not one that his own people couldn't vote for.

Now that the Democrats have come out with their new budget with 1.5 trillion in new taxes. How much in new taxes are you willing to pay?

jt, Shhhh, it might upset the most well informed folks in America.

JayBerg, Of course, it's not a serious plan. It can't possibly be a serious plan if President Obama proposed it.

What, specifically, are those "true" cuts you'd like to see? What would you cut or gut?

Are you confident that Paul Ryan's latest plan wouldn't necessitate raising taxes on the middle class to pay for the $7 trillion tax hole, the cost of ever more tax breaks to wealthy and corps than in his previous plan?

Bonfire, I didn't say it's not a serious plan because Obama offered it You said that. What I said was based in fact, If the Democrats couldn't vote for it how could it be serious. Are you trying to drag me into some kind of racial thing???

Are you happy with the new Democrat budget, all spending and new taxes? Are we ever going to get to a balanced budget and debt down to a managable level? If you think we can spend our way out please tell me how. What is your plan?

Hmmmmm? What little hints I perceive. (but at least not unibomber caliber)

Taunting. Taunting.

JayBerg, Republicans have made it clear they will do the opposite of anything Obama and the Dems propose even if it was their original idea in the first place. Remember McConnell said his main goal was to make Obama a one term president. They had no plan B for when Obama won because they were positive Romney was going win by a wide margin based on bad pollsters, dismissing the accurate ones. Boehner has no control over the House tea party faction who just want to burn everything down only caring about their "principles", not consequences. They have no budget plan, their only plan is to object to any Dem plan or Obama proposal. It would be the same if Hilary Clinton was president. You suggesting a racial question is mighty peculiar.

I'm very curious what and where you would cut and by how much. I can't answer your budget questions because they are based on lies. btw, I missed that "$1.5 trillion in new taxes" part in a previous comment. I did hear McConnell said that earlier today....another big, whopping, bald-faced lie.

A few years before the home mortgage meltdown, we were reading several economists that were predicting the bubble would burst and economy was going to take a dive. These economists and economy/budget wonks rarely got on tv/business channels but when they did, they were scoffed at by all those wall street cheerleaders moderating the shows. Those We paid attention to those economists and made some money decisions, moved up some of our plans and just in time. Those folks were right on back in 2005/2006 and they have been consistently right, rarely off, ever since. The last people I would trust or believe is Paul Ryan who believes we are living in an Ayn Rand world, took his guiding principles from her fiction novels or a party which has purged any moderates with a lick of governing sense.

Bonfire,"Republicans have made it clear they will do the opposite of anything Obama and the Dems propose......" I guess you don't or don't want to remember when there was a Rep. Pres. and a Dem. congress. Do you think Obama is the first Pres. to have opposition? I guess you don't remember all the DOA's (dead on arrival) Dems. would give Rep. proposals. The Reps. only control the House. I suppose you don't remember Polosi saying when she was speaker, it's not my job to have a plan, that's the Pres. job.

"They have no budget plan, their only plan is to object to any Dem. plan". What planet do you live on? The House Rep. have passed a budget each and every year as required by law. The Dem. Senate has finally passed a budget after 4 years. Obama has presented budgets that haven't received a single Dem. vote. And your telling me the Rep. have no budget plan?????

It's funney you should bring up the housing bubble. I was watching TV a few years before the bubble burst and came across C-span. I think it was the House Banking Committee, it was chaired by Frank, They had a Regulator from one of the FM"S I can't remember which one. He was telling them about the liabilities them may face the way the lending program was set up. The Rep. were asking questions and the Dems. were saying what great shape the program was in. I also remember Bush and McCain trying to get the Dems. to do something, they kept saying the programs are fine. We know how that turned out. We might not of have a burst if the Dems. had done their job instead of playing politics.

I will gladly show you my plan if you show me yours first. I've played this game before with your friend. I showed him what I would do and he took great pleasure in criticizing everything, as is his MO... he didn't offer a plan.


JayBerg: As I said in an earlier post. "Just depends whose ox is getting gored". You are correct. The Dems fought George Bush on everything. But the worm has turned and now all the cry babies are coming out on this thread.

Hip hip hooray for Fox News. They win the watching battle in the north woods.

FOX News...Fair and Balanced.


This does not surprise me in the least, lol.

orrcountry, I guess this is what you get when people watch news sources that only report half the news, you know nothing bad about Democrats and nothing good about Republicans.

FOX News. "We report, You decide".

Hey jt, what happened to your idol Ed Schultz on PMSNBC? Did he join you and former fired PMSNBC blabbermouth Keith Olbermann in your hole in the desert ground?

JayBerg, Oh, now i get it. The important thing is to hear something good or bad, subjective, about a legislator, a viewpoint, an opinion and confirm how one already feels. Whether that good or bad opinion is based on accuracy or factual analysis, objective, or not is beside the point.

Bonfire, I'm afraid you don't get it. How can you form an opinion based on accuacy or factual analysis when you only get half of the information you need? Or are you content to always hear only one side of the arguement?

Touche' JayBerg. Rush Limbaugh always says "I come to you with half my brain tied behind my back...just to make it fair".

As I have asked (as well as answered) many times in the past ... this sureness that I watch MSNBC??? But at least they are now ... or still ... admitting the key flaw. To learn from one or just a few news sources IS NOT enough. Yet ... unless I am mistaken ... they admit to being steady viewers of the likes of Fox News.

And again ... it is the inane insidious ignorance that emanates from their keystrokes.

Bonfire ... wish we were connected via email or facebook for rational discussions on subjects ...

Mr. Hypocrite, you are mistaken.

And during Saturday's speech at CPAC, Carson said people often dismiss black Republicans, like himself even though President Barack Obama and his allies are “trying to destroy the country.”

Carson said if someone wanted to ruin the United States, they “would create division among the people, encourage a culture of ridicule for basic morality and the principles that made and sustained the country, undermine the financial stability of the nation, and weaken and destroy the military. It appears coincidentally that those are the very things that are happening right now."

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JayBird, Well, I nor you can't, not even half, not from big "mainstream" media, not CNN, ABC, MSNBC, FOX, etc, etc. It's basically infotainment with a bit of news, much left out. So much news never mentioned, studiously ignored. Loads of repetitive "analysis" by a small number of people making grand salaries whose spouses work in banking, law firms, wall street, lobbying, think tanks, large corps, etc, etc. How often do you hear a regular or a guest on the news shows disclose that his/her spouse has a high-up position in a health insurance corp, for example, when the topic on the show segment is health insurance? Or disclose that they have lucrative speaking circuit gigs at some of the same organizations/corps they discuss on their shows? The networks presidents, the anchors, regular "contributors" and ceo's/high up employees travel in a lot of the same circles, attend a lot of the same parties, charity events, send their kids to the same schools and so on. Only 6 corporations own 90% of all media, tv, radio, newspapers, in America. Pretty tough for real journalism to get done in this environment.

jt, I think it may have been orrcountry who is thrilled when Fox "confirms' something he has heard.

Oh my, someone is watching CPAC. Yikes.

I don't do facebook, only email, I only go to FB to read our kids' pages.

Bonfire, JayBird, very creative.

I can agree on about 90% of what you wrote. I don't think Fox News belongs in the MSM. MSM is defined as media that supports the Democrat party. I agree the MSM walks in lockstep and often even reports news in the exact same way. That is why is is all the more important to promote Fox news and other like stations, to get a differant slant on the news.To get the other side of the story. Republicans think the more news and conversation the better. Democrats like to restrict news to their chosen stations and limit conversation.

You are indeed correct that he stated exactly that. As to CPAC watching ... no, you are not surprised. No need for "yikes".

Meanwhile, not sure to whom Mr. jb was speaking when he threw out his "hypocrite" bit. Can't be me, because he also says I never present a side of an argument ... only fault his arguments. Impossible to be hypocritical that way. Oh well ...

Mr. Hypocrite, you are mistaken. I guess you have forgoten how and why you got your name. Some silly argument you made above isn't going to change it. Think real hard it may come to you.

JayBerg, Why would behemoth Fox/Newscorp produce or care about producing quality, real journalism any more than the others do? These are all very large corporations that do not exist to deliver the most factual information to Americans possible. Corporations' primary goal and purpose is profit. Shareholders demand ROI. Advertising dollars dry up if ad buyers don't like the program content or they are put in a bad light.

In 1983, 90% of media was owned by 50 companies. Today, 90% of media, tv, radio, print, internet, is controlled by just 6 corporations. In many listening areas of the country, just one company owns all the radio stations. Consolidation of newspapers is happening at breathtaking speed. Newscorp/Rupert Murdoch bought WSJ and is eyeing Chicago and LA Tribune. Right now, FCC is planning to scrap rule forbidding media cross-ownership and allow one corp in the top 20 media markets own a newspaper, 2 tv stations, up to 8 radio stations and provide internet service.

Despite your belief that most msm is "liberal", which is laughable to any liberal you ask, this is what drives these monopolies from an insider. "programming is the (word for excrement) we run between the commercials". These 6 corps are monopolies. As media ownership ends up in fewer and fewer hands, we get less and less content, diversity, innovation and huge number people laid off. This is how Silvio Berlusconi ultimately became prime minister. He started out as a cruise ship lounge singer, later kept buying up media until he controlled it all and the content.

My point is that we don't know where what we hear or read comes from unless you look at who owns what to start with. You have a clear line that you like Fox and the like "slant" as you put it and dismiss all the rest. It's just not that simple.

Most people spend a lot of time and care researching before buying a car, boat or ATV. Not so much on issues that impact our lives. When it comes to what blasts out at us from tv/radio, it's more, hey, that sounds great to me, I'll buy that.

FOX News. The channel more people are turning to to get their news.

FOX News. Number 1 in cable news. More viewers than all other networks combined.

Bonfire, "most MSM is liberal, which is laughable to any liberal you ask". Why don't you ask a conservitive if they think they get a fair shake from the MSM? There is a world of differance how the MSM covers Dems and Reps. You remember when Bush's daughter was picked up for trying to buy boose when she was in college and under age? The MSM ran that story every day until her court appearance was over. Where was Obama during the Bengazi attack? He was in the room when the first report came in, where did he go?

No one saw him or heard from him.There was no interest in the MSM to find where he went. THe MSM is more interested in a presidents daughter than in a actual president. These are just a couple examples, I could go on and on. When has a Dem. Pres. been investigated by the MSM for anythig?

I almost forgot your first sentance. I won't write it out i'll just answer....maybe because they are not liberal.

" the slant........" That is not why I watch Fox, it's to get news that won't be reported on MSM. You know the lies......because you didn't hear it on your station.

"I'll buy that" No, you got that wrong to. When I first heard Rush I said now here's a guy that thinks like I do. I didn't change to him, I thought that way before I heard him.

An already bad month is getting worse for NBC. For the first time in sweeps history, the network is projected to finish fifth in the key adults 18-49 demographic. That’s a crushing blow for NBC, which went from flying high in November with a sweep win & Steve Burke breaking his usual silence last fall to brag to the New York Times about the network’s performance to its shows cratering and ratings plunging. From the beginning of the February sweep on January 31 through February 19, NBC has averaged a 1.2 rating among adults 18-49. That’s below the 1.5 that Univision has been averaging so far over the 20 night of the sweep period. In fact, Univision has bested NBC every single night of the sweep so far among adults 18-49 and is poised to overtake NBC for its first fourth-place sweep finish in the demo. While this isn’t the first time Univision has topped one of the Big Three for a month (it ranked higher than CBS in July 2010 and 2012), it is the first time the Spanish-language network has beaten NBC and the first time it has come in fourth place in an in-season sweep. In addition to Univision, NBC also ranks below the 1.7 18-49 rating that ABC has been averaging this sweep, as well as the 2.0 rating for Fox and the 4.9 rating for leader CBS, which of course is buoyed by its broadcast of the Super Bowl on Febru

From the post by jt:

It's also important to keep the latest development in context. As Katherine Fung and Jack Mirkinson at The Huffington Post note, "Fox News still had nine out of the top 10 programs. It has spent 11 consecutive years as the top-rated news channel. Its 6 a.m. show drew almost double the ratings of CNN's top-ranking primetime show."

Ho hum! And the drone goes on!

And as an aside ... (or right down the middle) ... if perchance Fox News has so many viewers, what might that say about the viewers? What were the results of that study again?

What it says jt, is that FOX News viewers are the most informed and have more facts at their disposal. Unlike those who watch the NBC organization, whose viewers are under informed.

You are more than welcome to think that ... however.

Meanwhile ... the discussion here continues on "apples" compared to "oranges".

One side is saying that one should not derive their ideas, their beliefs ... based on watching any one or very few news sources ... no matter what that source might be. They should source multiple resources ... and from across the spectrum. Then further analyze in a fair and critical manner the value of the information gathered.

The other side is arguing that one only gets "fair and balanced" news from Fox News.

(The fact that this discussion has virtually totally left the subjects presented in the editorial seems of no real importance.)

oc & jb,

Who and what are you replying to? You two completely ignored my point (not that this is shocking) and segued into responding how you wanted to which had nothing to do with the topic. Is this deliberate or, and I am afraid to ask, did it completely fly over your heads? You must get the concept of staying on topic from answering written high school exams, driving tests or gun carry permits.

Ratings have nothing to do with content accuracy, only with number of viewers, popularity. To assert that one channel has, say 15% more viewers, means that the news content of that channel is 15% more accurate is just plain silly.

My point is that to just trust but not verify is a not a smart way to make decisions on anything in life. A fool and his money are soon parted.

What? Too subtle?

bonfire: Is that why Air America went bankrupt? Al Franken's home away from home.

Your suggestion implies that viewers are dumb, unable to ascertain fact from fiction. I think FOX leads the way because of their fair and balanced approach to presenting the news, unlike the NBC network and their cable affiliates.

As Ronald Reagan, the best President this nation ever had said: "Trust, but verify". By the looks of your posts, you learned a lot from a Republican.

Subtle enough for you?

It looks like I missed a lot. I was having computer problems. I don't know if anyone is reading this site anymore, but I need to make a comment.

Mr Hypocrite, in your last post. Starting with"One side is saying........information gathered". I assume your talking about yourself? Very nice, to bad it isn't true. If it were true you would be supporting Fox News as probably the leading alternitive to the MSM, fufilling your "multiple resources...and from across the spectrum." Your past writings indicate that you hate Fox News so your post is nothing more that fantisy.

You did get one thing right. "one only gets"fair and balanced" news from Fox News.".

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