Washington Politicians Match Boxing Promoters For Guile Fight Managers Lie And Cheat, And They Let Somebody Else Take The Beating.

Posted: August 17, 1994

High-level politics and professional boxing have a great deal in common. Both can be sweaty, grimy, ruthless and brutal sports in which participants operate on the premise that victory is all that counts. It seldom matters to boxers and politicians how the battle is waged, so long as the opponent suffers defeat.

Both sports are performed in public arenas, but as nearly everybody is aware, some of the biggest deals affecting these savage activities are carried out in either dimly lit bars or the darkest corners.

Boxing's most-hated promoter, Don King, is a neophyte when his antics are compared to manipulations of professional politicians. Fight promoters and politicians use guile and gall to victimize the public. They lie when they insist they work for their constituencies, when obviously they are hopelessly addicted to the need to perpetuate and expand their own power and authority.

King now faces charges of fraud, and many politicians - in both parties - should meet a similar fate.

It is nothing short of fraud when people doubt the need for a new crime measure, simply because they lack the imagination to design a fair and effective solution. People are not sent to Washington to deal only in political expediency. It is their duty to come up with legislation that satisfies the needs of the American people.

Obviously, what is needed at the local level and in Washington is a clear sense of urgency and a willingness among politicians to find solutions to the emergencies we face. There is a desperate need to sharply reduce crime and curb the numbers of Americans being killed and brutalized on a daily basis.

There should be some things on the national agenda that are beyond politics. When children are being gunned down, when women are being seriously abused, and when our elderly quake at the crimes perpetrated in their communities, the time for problem-solving, not speeches, has arrived.

Delay, circumvention and defeat profit no one. They only ensure that the carnage and inadequate health care for millions will endure.

Politicians sound precisely like fight managers when they tell the public we're winning this battle or turning the corner on that one. They say, ''Things aren't really so bad."

Some of those fighters must ask themselves, "If we're winning, why am I hurting and being bruised and bloodied while you stand there without a single stain on your white shirt?"

The answer is simple: Politicians and managers seldom suffer the punches or the pain. They often are divorced from the terrible realities that millions suffer.

When politicians insist that the need for health-care reform is not real, they are out of touch with the masses of forgotten Americans. Members of Congress don't lack for health care. They don't live in unsafe neighborhoods. They don't lack the means to protect themselves or their families.

How can the need for health-care reform not be real when at the outset between 37 and 40 million Americans are without adequate coverage?

What recently has developed around the crime bill and health-care reform has put the smell of blood in the nostrils of President Clinton's opponents. While Clinton may have suffered a political defeat on the crime bill, it is the public that is being traumatized.

The procedural defeat of the crime bill has serious implications for health-care reform. But if members of Congress think the President is vulnerable - and he is - they will fight to destroy health-care reform to make him take on the cast of a loser.

In the end, the opponents of Clinton's efforts will be the losers. When it becomes clear that we have made little or no progress in these two areas, the public will turn on Congress and ultimately place the blame where it belongs.

The boxing analogy holds true when politicians think the only thing that counts is defeating a President or the other party. Too many believe it doesn't matter whether victory arrives via a crisp knockout, a series of punches and counterpunches, or by an unmerciful beating that leaves their opponents bloodied and hanging on the ropes.

The tragedy with many Washington politicians and with many boxing managers is that there is no compelling principle guiding them. Whatever works is fair game.

Greedy fight promoters worry only about the size of purses and the next event. Ambitious politicians worry only about creating failure on the part of their opponents, by any means necessary. Many of them have forgotten that the crime bill and health-care reform will affect the lives of millions. They have forgotten, too, that many Americans are already flat on their backs while Washington fat cats play costly political games at public expense.

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