Paul Greenberg

With deep apologies to, and selected quotations from, Finley Peter Dunne, creator of the immortal Mister Dooley, Irish barkeep and political commentator who first noted that politics ain't beanbag.

"I'll have a double," called Aloysius J. Hennessey as he pushed through the swinging doors of Riley's Royal I.R.A. Vegetable Bar and Grill.

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Looking around to make certain he was the only customer in the place, Hennessey added: "Make that a round for everybody!"

Mr. Riley, sole proprietor and entire staff, eyed his first visitor of the morning warily. "Oh, 'tis a great thing t'be on yer side iv the bar," he said, "and be able to ordher on credhit. Me, I can ordher all I want from th' distill'ry, but they'll onny deliver fir cash. 'Tis enough to drive a man to dhrink. But not to sarve one."

"Ye don't understand, Misther Riley," said Hennessey softly, suddenly beguiling as a leprechaun. "Look at all the credhit I've amassed here through th' years. And now I'm offerin' you th' chanst to take an IOU fir th' whole sum, like a bona fide multi-tranche CFO that can't go wrong. I know. I've been readin' up on these things in Investor's Daily, or maybe 'twas th' Thoroughbred Times. I get 'em confused. But I tell you, my credhit is as sound as as Lehman Brothers, or is it Bear Stearns or AIG? Annyways, th' stars and the algorithms are with me. In hock signo vinces, as Father Kelly would say at mass. Or in the vernacular, which the church has started favorin' since Vatican II, 'tis a shure thing. What could be fairer, I ask ye."

"Puttin' me in front iv a firing squad at dawn," answered Mr. Riley. "You want to give me an IOU backed by yer unpaid tab? Where d'ye come up with such grand ideas?"

"I been studyin' the prezydent's health-care insurance reform, reconciliation, and general rhubarb. 'Tis a deficit-reducing, 31-million-more covered, cheaper-by-the-billion wonder. With all due rayspect, little as that may be in your case, Misther Riley, the throuble with you consarvatives is you just don't understhand high finance and low polytics. The more dhrinks you sarve me, the more money you make, an' the happier we'll both be. What could be simpler?"

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.