08 September 2008

The sports metaphors campaigns

Americans love sports!

Even better we like to apply sports analogies to politics and war analogies to sports, which is how you get all sorts of strange artifacts showing up in US politics.  You can follow 'The Blitz' from WII to football to politics and not miss a beat.

Team Obama has a passing game, all lofty, aerial and generally going for trying to sneak folks through for sudden leverage.  They dazzled the hell out of Team Clinton's balanced approach which had not formed up a good counter to the air game of Team Obama.  The result was only hitting on the hard tactics to grind through Team Obama, when trying to come-from-behind late in the 4th.  Without a good passing game to keep Team Obama off-stride, Team Clinton would lose not realizing that her balanced attack would only work on Republicans, not a skilled passing game like Team Obama had.

Team McCain is not so balanced, although taking to the air once in a great while to 'keep the other side honest'.  Team McCain has a ground game, willing to use the air when opportunity strikes or the opposition has gotten complacent.  Team McCain uses the ground game to just chew through the opponents and has decent defensive coverage enough to cause turnovers.  To round out their teams, Team Obama picked up a fumble fingered wide receiver in Joe 'Wrong Way' Biden.  Team McCain has a seasoned defense line-up and now can utilize that to stop any chance of a ground game from Team Obama and 'stuff it'.  There is no ground game on Team Obama's side, and while you can win with the air game, it is damned hard and you need skilled, sure fingered veterans.

Team McCain went for a Running Back, Gov. Sarah 'Barracuda' Palin.  She is from the heartland growing up with hunting, fishing and plainly going right ahead with things and shocking everyone when she does.  She knows how to plant a hand in the face of a lineman, jump over him or, even worse, run over him and then look for the next blocker to thwart.  While still a rookie, she is able and sure handed and has done some harsh intramural work in the Republican League.  The rookie QB on the other side had gotten into a few 'pick up' and touch-football games, and only looked half-way decent in constantly passing over Team Clinton.  He has taken a few tackles, but has yet to feel pressed with a Blitz.

Ahhh... football!

I actually didn't grow up with too much football, hailing from a part of a State that had actual snowflakes appear in August (back in the 50's if what I have been told is correct).  That area also borders Canada, and so Monday Night Football would sometimes compete with Hockey Night in Canada... and lose.  I hail from Buffalo, NY by origin, and know good-honest workmen-like sports games.  They may not be pleasing to the eye, but they are appreciated by the fans.  So in hockey terms, having a Hockey Mom on Team McCain, I'll cast it into that area.

If you know hockey, you know 'scoring phenoms' of the minor leagues: guys with great stats, but who just can't make it to the Majors.  You look at a farm team with such a player and wonder: what the hell is he doing in the farm team?  Right up to the moment one of your top forwards goes out for a month or two... then you realize the player isn't conditioned or skilled enough for the Majors.  That is the Center in Team Obama's best line: the 'phenom' who isn't conditioned enough for the Majors.  Usually you get a good game or two from that person until the opponents wise-up and hip-check, back-check and even do some dirty cross-checking on him.  He can't handle that, and is way, way off his game.  Plus the LW team-mate of his brought in with him has never been more than somewhat workmanlike, and has lost a step or two over the years.

Team McCain has something that is rarely seen in hockey: they old, playing star.  The NHL had that for a few years when a start-up league was brought into the NHL, and it was an amazing thing to see.  The team was the Hartford Whalers and the player was Gordie Howe.  He was ancient.  He was grizzled.  He still had a move or two, but his age showed.  And when any rookie happened to disdain him, that rookie would suddenly find himself flying through the air from a blind-sided check.  Often with plexiglass as a final destination.  Gordie Howe knew how to play the game like nobody's business and had served at every position on the ice at one time or another.  Including Goal Tender.

In hockey there is one unit that is under appreciated, save by their year-end stats: the penalty killing line.  They aren't pretty, usually not fast, but are damned skilled at knowing how to take away the puck from the opposition and run out the penalty.  The Center on most of those lines runs the fore-check operation in the opponents zone and the Goalie helps keep ground traffic coordinated  in the home zone.  These are not dazzling players, by and large, but have one extra, added job in life if they have just a bit of speed to them:  take on the star-line of the opponents.  The star line is the line-up of high powered skaters, scorers and just damned good offensive players.  Most lines taking them on are one of two types: the star line of the opponents (going finesse vs finesse) or the penalty killers (who has more stamina?).  If Team McCain has the old star on Defense (and still able to blind-side rookies like nobody's business) then the choice of Gov. Palin is not that of Goal Tender.  She is the Center brought up to work with the penalty killing unit as she has stamina, a good, decent game, and has proven deft at stealing the puck from 'far better players'...

You know, that last always brought the question to mind: if they are so damned good, then why are they the ones to have the puck stolen from them so often?  Usually it is just 'puck handling time' and the star players get more of it because they are more skilled, adept, etc.  But hockey is a game of fluid possession: it has set periods, but no formal hand-over of puck control.  If you watch a hockey game and half a period goes without a referee call then you are probably watching some of the best players go at each other, or one team just dominating the ice... it is either dazzling hockey or one team proving that even their worse line can skate rings around their opponents.  Normally you don't do that sort of thing as it is humiliating and prefer to just 'run up the score'.

What Center Sarah Palin brings is a skilled, tactical mind to her unit and how the best ways are to shut down the star line.  Center Obama has now had his face planted in the ice a few times, and that after having found this Ancient Guy who, somehow, has planted his face in the plexiglass.  In front of his team's bench, which is a bit of salt on the wounds.  Still he had center ice until then, more or less unopposed... now he is finding himself kissing ice, and often finding the puck just clear, flat-out disappearing from his stick control.  With a shower of ice-snow in his face as the opponent Center races down the ice to split the Defense and do some one-on-one with the Goal Tender.  Even worse is that the Left Winger that he relied on to help him in the Majors hasn't proven too able to figure out who has the puck.  And after an initial face-plant from the opponent's Ancient Guy he is wary of this whole confrontation business and leaving it up to him to figure out.  And then, just as he gets back on his skates, and gets the puck? 


Blindsided hip-check. 

Team Clinton never did *that* to him... just who is this guy, anyways?

Oh, and that penalty killing Center?  She knows how to score when one-on-one with the Goalie.  Stamina, brains and a deft hand by the net.

Really rookie players can be pure phenom enough to bring an entire team to a better level of play.  If they can get on the field... or get their faces off the ice.

I expect the football analogy to work better for some, but Gov. Palin is a Hockey Mom, used to the 3AM routine, the 5:30AM routine and the 'shower as fast as you can and get to work' routine.

When she isn't off on the Bering Sea.

Or moose hunting.

I would suggest whoever gave the Bullwinkle outfit to the Donkey had better lend a hint, there.  I know it is trying to escape being under the bus and ran off the highway, but wandering in the woods with moose antlers on isn't a great idea because, this political season, it is moose season.  Although Sen. Biden does look cute with the Rocky the Squirrel outfit... varmints, right? 

They are always in season.


Bloviating Zeppelin said...

But now how about the Obama Team deciding to play completely in the gutter? Witness:

"You can put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig."

There is NO other possible interpretation of that save: Sarah Palin is a pig.


A Jacksonian said...

They are doing some obnoxious things to see if the ref will put a 'blind eye' to it... mostly tripping with the nasty cross-check handed out. Veterans know how to get away with those and make it look 'natural'... Team Obama? Heh.

In football its the old 'off sides' or some really nasty stuff applied hoping it won't be on instant replay.

In baseball it is spit balls, hockey the cross-check, and football has entire categories of things you can't do on interference its not funny.

The refs might miss it - the crowd doesn't.

You usually don't do those if you are winning.

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Perfect analogy: the refs miss it, the crowd doesn't.

And more importantly: You usually don't do those if you are winning.


A Jacksonian said...

The final bit is - while a dirty player can succeed, they don't get respect... see Daley, et. al. in Chicago, Laguardia in NYC. An honest crook like Capone we can sneakingly admire, while still hate - he was doing more than *just* being a crook.

Obama is inexperienced and out of his league - he had a great start, like many rookies do, but his weaknesses are now apparent and he can't cover them.

McCain has had decades to learn how to sweet-talk and stab-in-the-back, and does it frequently and gets away with it.

Palin is a frontiersman and shows it - takes no shit. Period. And fesses up to her weaknesses... I *like that* a lot.