Obama at sea on wave of debt

 I’ve handed over today’s column to my friends in the drunken sailor community, who have an important message for America.

A lot of water has passed under the keel since we in the drunken sailor community last asked our favorite matey to hand over the wheel of his column for a day.

As you may remember, that old sea dog Reg, the usual author of this log, came to our attention after he wrote about crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a saucy sloop.

Although quite capable of capsizing a rubber ducky in a bathtub, he stood gallantly on the heaving deck, which the rest of the crew had fled to heave elsewhere. Battered by wind and wave, he and the crew made port at last in St. Lucia, where the local brewery had to put on an extra shift to accommodate their needs.

Naturally, we in the drunken sailor community thought this was grand. In 2004, we asked Reg — and he readily agreed — if we could borrow his column to give credit to Cap’n W. for charting the course we like best: i.e., spending money like drunken sailors.

Cap’n W. must have been encouraged by our comments because he headed over the horizon under full sail, dollars flying from the mast like flecks of green paint and the bilge bubbling with red ink.

But now a new skipper is at the helm of the ship of state — name of Cap’n Obama, who learned his sailing in the tricky waters of Lake Michigan. It is time for us to praise him for tacking away from fiscal prudence and adding pork to his ballast. Fair’s fair, matey, as we taught our parrot to say.

Actually, our first mate Reg is doing us a big favor by letting us handle the column today, because he does not approve of large deficits, no matter who is the captain. He does not want to leave huge debt to his children; he believes they are handicapped enough by being related to him.

Reg read in the paper the other day that the U.S. House — aye, there be a bunch of scurvy rascals — had approved an $819 billion stimulus package for the leaking economy. As a math-challenged journalist and sometime sailor, he could not comprehend such a sum, not having enough fingers to count it.

He’s a bit green round the gills too about Cap’n Obama’s selection of a crew. It may be that some of these hearties are not the dregs of the docks, but when the skipper insists on a standard he better keep it. It’s demoralizing to the whole crew when the captain says no peg-legged shipmates and then lets a couple on board to tap along the deck as a reminder.

While he marvels that so many landlubbers in Washington seem not to pay their taxes, the old sea dog allows that picking a suitable crew is not easy cruising. The mother superior at the local convent told him she has the same recruiting problem — too many of the girls are not suitably chaste, being already chased and caught.

Now, our mate Reg understands that when the hull is taking on water, you need to stimulate the economic pumps. But he thinks we should only do enough to right the boat before plotting more exotic courses. Steady as she goes, he says.

So is he disillusioned with Cap’n Obama, then? Not at all. He likes the cut of his jib. He never thought of him as the messiah, remembering that the last messiah that came along was crucified.

He also understands that Cap’n Obama has only just left port and hasn’t got the feel of the wheel yet. And he knows the eternal swing of the sea that inclines Democrats to spend too much money, drunken sailors to spend and drink too much, and Republicans to sit on their hands and look constipated. Nothing unusual has really happened on this watch.

We drunken sailors disagree with our salty host that less spending is the right sail for the conditions and we think we have devoted too much space to recording how he feels. We did it because we drunken sailors are good people and, besides, he promised us a drink later.

Before the old sea dog returns, please join with us as we sing a timely sea chantey:

Heave ho and up she rises

Heave ho and up she rises

Early in the Obama administration

(The "she" in this context is the federal deficit.)

We respectfully urge the new administration to spend money like drunken sailors. The goal is to stimulate the economy. We know it works because we are always stimulated by spending money — you can ask any of the girls in any of our ports. Ahoy!

(Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. E-mail rhenry(at)post-gazette.com. For more stories visit scrippsnews.com)