Wussification, huh?

In the aftermath of a postponed football game, America takes a look in the mirror.

Mike Munzenrider

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell recently threw his hat into the hot realm of politico word coinage by âÄúrefudiatingâÄù âÄî er, repudiating âÄî the NFL for postponing an outdoor game between the Philadelphia Eagles and our Minnesota Vikings due to Alaska-like weather conditions. Rendell claimed this postponement was a âÄúpart of the wussification of America.âÄù
Impressively rattling off a number of memorably frigid and snowy pigskin moments, Rendell widened his comments from those of a scorned NFL fan into those of a concerned social critic. Calling for a greater sense of personal responsibility and likening the NFL to a âÄúnanny state,âÄù Rendell lamented the loss of AmericaâÄôs âÄúpioneer spirit.âÄù
Is Rendell actually onto something? Are we as a country becoming wussified? Is the cancellation of a football game another signpost on the road to our place in the dustbin of once-great-now-wussy history? Looking more broadly at the country, maybe itâÄôs not.
This past fall, America was caught up in the rhetoric of never retreating and always reloading; calls for manning up rang from sea to shining sea. Back on the campaign trail of 2008, now-President Barack Obama non-wussily remarked, âÄúIf they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.âÄù It may not make for a fair fight, but it wonâÄôt be a wuss fight either.
More recently, in the face of the Tucson, Ariz. shootings that left six people dead and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., critically injured, what could have been a totally wussy response of soul-searching from America, was anything but. Within hours, the left was accusing the right of creating an atmosphere conducive to violence and, shortly thereafter, the right was accusing the left of opportunistic blood libels. Heated rhetoric about heated rhetoric is not for the weak of heart, let alone some wusses.
Departing from words and into action, the public has acted with decidedly non-wussy moves. Gun sales have spiked across the country in the wake of the shootings. Those might-be wusses who look to regulate guns a bit more after troubling gun violence are not finding much traction in Congress to work with. In light of all this, I canâÄôt see Rendell screaming wussification anymore.
However, looking elsewhere, thereâÄôs plenty of wussification. Heck, even in light of all the blustery bloviating of political tough speak, the NFL did cancel that game. IsnâÄôt the NFL all worried about âÄúconcussionsâÄù too? WerenâÄôt they also afraid that the Vikings would all die if they played outside at TCF Bank Stadium? Maybe itâÄôs just the NFL thatâÄôs wussifying.
But no, it might be America too. Wear a helmet while riding a bike? Wussification. Buckle up? Ditto. Quit smoking? WhereâÄôs your pioneer spirit? DonâÄôt drink four Four Lokos? Who are you, the FDA? Wuss.
It might just be that RendellâÄôs attention-grabbing sound bite was not of social import, but only an attention-grabbing sound bite. Invoking âÄúwussitudeâÄù is a playground variety insult on its face and rings even more shallowly when America is judged upon it.
If Rendell speaks to anything, itâÄôs AmericaâÄôs continuing struggle with personal responsibility and the correct amount of outside intrusion we allow into our lives. Attempting to parse out that balancing act must be left alone for another time, but ponder this: Rendell was ready for some football, darnit, but Mother Nature and the NFL evidently were not.
So what did he do? He invoked wussification, personal responsibility, our innate pioneer spirit, and proceeded to whine for not getting his way.