What a Game

I told myself I was going to take a break from posts about language and politics after the election, but Robert Lehrman’s recent “Draft” column in The New York Times changed my mind. Mr. Lehrman wrote of President Obama’s policies going forward,

Naturally, whether President Obama can bring people together will be determined by more than a speech. Like tennis, it depends on players across the net. For the last four years, Republicans thought they could win with another game. Will Republicans, chastened by defeat, now change?

Though I gather that Michelle Obama plays tennis, Lehrman’s is the first reference I’ve heard to that game in talking about this year’s presidential contest. But we’ve exhausted practically all the others:

  • This year’s contest between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama is best explained as the biggest football game ever. … The fourth quarter began on October 1. The first big play happened on the 3rd, when the two nominees squared off in Denver for their first debate. Team Romney scored an early touchdown, and things fell apart for Team Obama. … Perpetually mistaken for a cautious player, Romney might just go deeper into his playbook in an attempt to ice it. (Rich Stowell, “If the presidential election were the Superbowl,” The Washington Times)
  • In some ways, chronic traumatic encephalopathy—the long-term consequence of repeated concussions—is to football what climate change is to a fossil fuel-based economy. (Stephen Hiltner, “Why government regulators matter,”
  • Mitt Romney did considerably better and was more aggressive but never really landed a big punch. He hit Obama regularly but the president played rope-a-dope and just waited for the bell to ring. (Taegan Goddard, “Reaction to the First Presidential Debate,” Political Wire)
  • The force of personalities, storytelling, and the to and fro between competitors (what we wrestling fans call “in-ring generalship” and “workrate”) are the elements of a great match. Professional wrestling is a spectacle that succeeds by drawing the audience into the story and manipulating their emotions … . The Republican Party and the Democratic Party are the big wrestling companies and territories of contemporary politics. (Chauncey Devega, “Forget Boxing, the 2012 Election is more like Professional Wrestling,” Salon)
  • It’s pretty clear to me that Obama is the chessmaster. Stop looking at this politically—let’s look at policy. … Think of him as Bobby Fischer—he sacrificed the queen to win the greatest game. (Commenter to James Fallows, The Atlantic)
  • If you have a bad game, you just move on. (President Obama to Diane Sawyer, October 10)
  • Watching politics during this intense period is much like watching a Nascar race—lots of action but, quite honestly, we’re mostly just waiting for something crazy to happen. (Peter Wierenga, Gutenberg College blog)
  • If the bookies’ Electoral College math is right, here is a way to visualize from a poker perspective: Imagine Obama pushing all in with pocket kings preflop, and Romney with pocket queens. Well over 80% of the time, kings will be good. But can a third queen, a four-card flush, or a four-card straight to the queen materialize by the river? Absolutely. (Mercenary Trader blog at Business Insider)
  • How long can the curse last? The first Curse of the Bambino was said to have  originated when the Red Sox sold Ruth to the Yankees in 1919. Bostonians declared the curse over in 2004, when their team won the World Series for the first time in 86 years. Following that timeline, we shouldn’t expect to see a Massachusetts man or woman take the presidency before 2048. (Sarah Parnass, “Another Swing and a Miss for a Massachusetts Politician,” ABC News)

Even the front-page summary of the recent Lehrman analogy threw in another sports analogy: “President Obama’s speech should reassure his fans that when he reaches back to throw the high hard ones, he’s got plenty left.”

So we’ve got tennis, baseball, football, boxing, wrestling, chess, poker, basketball, and—let’s not forget—footracing; it is called a “race,” after all. Which analogies have I missed? Let’s throw them all in here, right now. And vow not to use them again for … let’s see … another 18 months? That should give us a breather before the next Congressional elections, a chance to consider that sometimes a baseball is just a baseball.

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