THE OTHER day, I saw Ed Rendell standing outside the Bellevue Starbucks.

Though we don't always agree on policy, I'm a big fan of the man who's been called "Your Honor," "Fast Eddie," "America's Mayor" and - my favorite - "Judge Rendell's husband." (I'm a huge fan of the Honorable Midge.)

Looking at his imposing presence, I was certain of two things: (1) our very own Governator wasn't ordering a latte (that's such a girly-man drink) and (2) Pennsylvania will suffer from his absence on the political scene.

This social conservative will be sad to see the pro-choice ex-head of the DNC leave office because he's a gutsy guy with just the right amount of testosterone. He doesn't suffer fools gladly - and he calls 'em as he sees 'em.

And he saw 'em correctly when he said in reaction to the NFL's decision to cancel the Eagles game on Sunday: "I think we've become wussies."

You got it, Guv. We have. I don't care how many people talk about how wonderful it is that the league was worried about the fans. (Hey, people, if you hold tickets to a late-December game played in an open stadium, you should already expect to deal with bad weather. Just make sure your chains are on, get a designated driver and stop complaining.) The game should've gone on as scheduled, lawsuits and frigid fans be damned.

HAVING SEEN Vikings fans brave arctic temps in an open stadium last week when their Jiffy Pop of a Metro Dome went Jiffy Plop, I'd hate to think we've actually become wimps. This is the city that dropped a bomb on its residents, for crying out loud.

We're tough. We can take it. Or can we?

I tend to agree with Rendell that this "kindler, gentler" move on the gridiron is symptomatic of a larger problem. We've lost some of our collective backbone, especially now that we're actually being tested.

Here are some examples of what, to me, show a distinct and increasing level of wussiness:



We all know that the job market is very tight just now. But when our governor-elect implied that extending unemployment benefits might discourage some Pennsylvanians from looking for work, he was called everything from heartless to a Nazi. (Just read the comments to the articles.)

Why is it wrong to point out the obvious: that subsidizing something will get you more of it? Why is it cruel to suggest that maybe, just maybe, the best way to help people isn't to make it easier for them to remain unemployed?

Years ago, like when my father held down two jobs and went to law school at night to support his family, there would be no question. You'd take whatever was available until you could get back on your feet, not cry because the government wasn't doing enough to help.



It used to be that when someone shot a cop at point-blank range, he'd get an express ticket to the death chamber.

No discussions about how sad his early childhood might have been. No testimonials from his mother, sitting in the back row of the courtroom with a tissue to her eye and wondering how the state could "murder her baby."

No comments from the neighborhood friends and acquaintances who said what a good father he was to his . . . seven children.

Now, we have to be social workers instead of citizens. It's like that scene in "West Side Story" where the kids try to beat an arrest by whining, "We're depraved cause we're deprived."



A lot of people will never forgive Michael Vick for what he did to those dogs. And that may be right.

But I wonder how many support abortion? Could they be like animal rights "ethicist" Peter Singer, who believes dogs, cats and parakeets are more valuable to society than mentally handicapped children?


If I'ad ever sent a picture of myself naked to a boyfriend in high school (not likely, considering I had a mirror but not one date during that turbulent time), my parents would have grounded me - and used the Jewish calendar. Today, young ladies can send pornographic pics via telephone and when school officials do their job and suspend their keesters, Mommy and Daddy go all federal lawsuit on them.

Welcome to Wussylvania.

Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer.