As the pending government shutdown looms, we might think to let famed quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees run the country. They have offered themselves as plaintiffs in the event of an NFL shutdown, and their instincts for leadership, management, problem-solving and the ability to get along with others is legendary. The NFL lockout clearly runs a parallel with the government shutdown. But compare these quarterbacks and the skills, dedication and physical courage of their teammates to the motley crew in D.C. today.

A country that thinks about football more than it thinks about politics is a healthy country and one with a life force and a future, but sometimes that inattentiveness can let things slip. So we might hold on with Brady, Manning and Brees after the shutdown as a kind of triumvirate and let them form their own Council of Watchers to keep an eye on things while we are watching football.

Because anything can happen when you are not paying attention. The Supreme Court might randomly decide that a privately owned power company in Quebec can take over, say, former Supreme Court Justice David Souter’s private house in New Hampshire. Or it might decide that individuals can be forced to buy health insurance. Then such a crisis occurs that the only honest recourse, once people wake up to what has happened, is a Constitutional Convention. Or the Supremes and Congress might even decide that every single school-aged child, like those 90 with babies in one high school alone in Kentucky, needs an iPad more than she needs a father. There is no telling.

In ancient times we had such a Council of Watchers. It was called “the Senate.” Late in life the great ambassador George Kennan proposed that we need a new one: a kind of Council of Elders with political autonomy made up of people we trust; people who might be better than the rest of us in some ways — gods, really — to bring us back to the path when we, the earthly mortals, get lost in the woods.

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