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Bee Eff Dee

My first response will not surprise Gentle Readers of this Tohu Bohu: Joe Biden was right. This is a big fucking deal.

Nor will my second response surprise GRs, I think: it’s more complicated than that. I mean, yes, it is a big fucking deal, but it’s not like it is done, particularly. There’s an awful lot of work left to be done with it, not just with the Senate patch but successively, from year to year. The main thing is that there will now be a perennial battle about how we fulfill with the national responsibility to ensure (or insure) access to health care, or how well we fulfill it, rather than if we fulfill it, or if that responsibility exists at all. But, like early childhood education, the perennial battle may be answered with cheaply and shoddily, which ain’t much of a legacy. So, yes, a big fucking deal, but the deal ain’t done.

I don’t know if y’all will have predicted my third response, although it is pretty predictable: Where Theodore Roosevelt promised a Square Deal, and Franklin Roosevelt promised a New Deal, and Harry Truman promised a Fair Deal, the new social contract is the Big Fucking Deal. I am totally liking that, and totally using it. I am hoping that it fulfills its promise: a sequence of programs aimed at fundamentally changing the protections that the federal government can offer individuals against the vagaries of illness, unemployment, homelessness, and natural disaster. That would be a Big Fucking Deal indeed.

And fourth—does it seem odd to have anyone use the phrase big fucking deal in a positive sense? I mean, yes, Joe Biden is a dialect unto himself, really, but in my experience, the phrase is always, always, always used negatively. When you say that something is a Big Fucking Deal, you are saying that it is not important. Even more so, of course, with the initialism version, which I have used more frequently, but still: if we are going to use the phrase to describe things that are important, I’m going to need to recalibrate my profanity meter.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


> But, like early childhood education, the perennial battle may be answered with cheaply and shoddily

s/early childhood education/pretty much every service the Government provides/ no?

I think "this is a big fucking deal" sounds positive to me, while "enh, big fuckin' deal" sounds negative. It might be negative more often than positive, but I think it does sound positive in the right context.

I've heard it used positively, in the sense I assume Biden used it, as a very emphatic Wow. I mean, I haven't seen a clip, just heard people joking about what he said, but I have no problem picturing it in that way. I'm also picturing my uncle in Massachusetts saying it in retelling a story in which some employee failed to understand the importance of a matter.

BFD always sarcastic, though.

pretty much every service the Government provides? Well, no, you wouldn't have expected me to agree with that, would you? So: the USPS is magnificent and the envy of the world; the VA Hospitals were, by all accounts, very good for fifty years; the FBI is neither cheap nor shoddy, but is in fact an extraordinary law-enforcement body, particularly at investigating interstate kidnapping; the interstate highway system (although not technically a service) was not cheap nor shoddy but a brilliant (if misguided, I think) engineering achievement; the system of state colleges and universities (Government, albeit not federal) was built to be neither cheap nor shoddy, although of course we have been letting them fall apart in the last thirty years or so; the TVA, the Hoover Dam, even the National Parks were done on a scale that had nothing to do with cheapness or shoddiosity; the Apollo project and even the Space Shuttle program; the federal courthouses across the country and pretty nearly the entire judiciary branch; the military bases across the country and pretty nearly the entire armed forces. You can disagree with the intent or the outcome, or the expenditure, or the execution, or the maintenance, or a million other things, but none of those was done on the cheap or shoddily at all.

Now, it is certainly true that for every one of those programs I named, I'm sure you could name two more that were done cheaply and shoddily. And for every government program that was done cheaply and shoddily, I'm sure I could name two private/market projects done cheaply and shoddily, and for each one of those, you could name two private/market projects done solidly and thoroughly. The country is too big for example-naming to be persuasive on the whole. But the point is that we always have the choice of doing it shoddily or solidly; we always have the choice of letting it fall apart or doing the work of maintenance; we have the choice of really providing access to health care and a means to pay for it or just claiming that it is done because signing the bill was such a big fucking deal.


So, what I want to know is, when do I get to stop crossing my fingers and holding my breath?

(Don't say I never gave you any straight lines).

Have you driven across country? because I LOVE the interstate highway system (except for I-80. 80 sucks). Almost as much as the National Parks, best thing ever. Totally not misguided.

I have driven across the country (actually from CT to Chicago and then down to N'Awleans and then across to LA and up to Ess Eff, so not only across and up and down) and I reiterate that the highway system is a brilliant engineering achievement that fulfilled its ambition. I go back and forth on whether it really is a good idea for people (and perhaps more important, trucks) to be able to go those large distances so easily without rails. If it were much more annoying to drive those long distances, we might have found other ways, which would have made, well, everything different. Possibly worse.


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