All-American buffet mentality | Andy Hobbs

The buffet tempts your self-control like a forbidden apple in the Garden of Eatin’.

The buffet tempts your self-control like a forbidden apple in the Garden of Eatin’.

You go to the Asian buffet not to dine, but to gorge like it’s a job.

You make little eye contact with anyone until after a third trip to the serving line. You load plate after plate with General Tso’s chicken, rice, shrimp, crab legs, sushi, watermelon, meatloaf, ribs and chocolate cake. You wash it all down with a bottomless glass of iced tea.

As a model citizen of Buffetland, you take all you want and eat all you take. You sneak glances at other diners to see who else takes this meal seriously.

Some customers waste piles of food. Others want their money’s worth, figuring they can get more down if they don’t chew.

When you put the fork down after that last bite, and a waitress snatches the plate from behind, you realize someone was watching you eat. You leave the restaurant like an overstuffed vacuum cleaner bag, wishing the waiters would offer free wheelbarrow rides to the parking lot.

The ultimate lesson from gorging at the buffet: the inevitable bellyache caused by too much of a good thing.

The buffet mentality is intoxicating, and not limited to food. Just a few years ago, Americans gorged at the credit buffet and the housing market. At the height of the SUV fad, Americans guzzled gasoline under the expectation of cheap refills. Nowadays, Americans must ride out the Great Recession — an extended financial bellyache made more painful by a tightened belt. At least with the food buffet, the bellyache is usually gone the next morning.

The political pendulum

The political pendulum swings back and forth like a grandfather clock, and it swings eternal. Case in point: If today’s conservatives are stereotyped as warmongers, consider that the political right opposed America’s entry into World War II. Thank goodness history is owned by the winners.

Each president and political philosophy’s reign leads to a mass indoctrination, from one extreme to the other. Consider the rhetoric drummed up by the left between 2000 and 2008 — and the opposite rhetoric being born now.

When the pendulum points straight down, midway between swings, it is merely in transition to the other side.

The only way the pendulum can stop in the middle is if it stops swinging.

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