What do Congressman Paul Ryan, chairman of House Budget Committee and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell have in common?? They both know how to take a stand, be honest about a problem and move aggressively to solve it. Now they both have to get ready for howls from their critics that they don't know how the game is played and complaints from the pretenders, lightweights and hand-wringers that they are doing more harm than good.
In Ryan's case, he is hearing about the bad politics of his proposed budget. Critics say that in an election year it would be smarter to deny the obvious and not call for real spending cuts and powerful pro-growth tax reform.
Thoughtful advocates on the left have every right — and in fact a responsibility — to criticize Ryan's budget on policy grounds. That is a good fight. But the noise and the heat he gets about his budget being bad politics for the moment are what perpetuates the status quo in American government. Sadly, policy and ideas are measured more by their perceived near-term political effect than by the worthiness, honesty and impact on the problems they are meant to address.
Goodell will hear that he has done too much about the NFL's cancerous Bountygate scandal that centers on the New Orleans Saints, and he will hear that he has done too little. I give him credit for moving quickly and not kicking the can down the road, not forming a task force to study the problem and not declaring that the problem is too big to really solve.
For Ryan and Goodell, they didn't cause the problems they are dealing with, but these problems are occurring on their watch. Both have stepped up to take responsibility, and some risk, to do something that has real impact. Good for them. Politicians, take note.