Written by Andrew Ottoson Tuesday, 21 October 2008 13:07
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the main event! In the red corner, the pride of Coco Solo Naval Air Station, the sensational heavyweight slugger, John “The Formidable Temper” McCaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaain!!!!!
In the blue corner, the challenger, weighing it at just shy of 109 pounds in a sopping wet cardigan, Rocky “Balboa” Ooooooooooobamaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!
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OK, OK, that fight never happened in real life. It was an analogy, and it only happened once or twice a week in every single newspaper, magazine or Web site that covers national politics.
I read somewhere that “John McCain was hoping for a knockout punch” during the debate.
“He didn’t get it in his final debate with Barack Obama,” the article went. “But he did hit Sylvester Stallone’s brother Frank really hard a couple of times.”
That one might have been in The Onion. I read somewhere else—on some Web site that, I guess, was seriously trying its best with this one: “One of the marks of a great boxer is the combination punch...
“You know—the ‘old one-two’ —when a couple of punches are delivered in rapid sequence. The boxer hits his or her opponent, and while the rival is still defending one punch, he or she is hit with another....
“The Formidable Temper campaign just may have some former boxers on staff because a series of campaign combo jabs and uppercuts have been unleashed, and they seem to have left the Balboa campaign reeling.”
Really? Is this on YouTube? And is there one of these guys tag-teaming Kimbo Slice?
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Note to Web site analogy writer guy: If you have to explain it, it isn’t good. No, not even if you spend two or three sentences on it.... Moving on.
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But the politics-boxing analogy isn’t just for mediocre bloggers—it’s also good enough for publications with 100-plus years of journalistic street cred. Yes, I’m talking to you, Christian Science Monitor:
“Ultimately, the two candidates went back and forth without any knockout punches or gaffes, and so there appeared to be no obvious winner.”
I guess the reporter had no luck tracking the scorecards down. That’s a shame, because there’s a lot of us who would really like to know who won.
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The fact that professional writers everywhere continue with repeating the same dull analogy over and over again says to me that there is a small fortune to be made by whoever can come up with a better way to describe politics.
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I think the boxing analogies are no good. So, just what sport should we compare politics to, if not boxing? How ‘bout baseball?
Is there one good reason why more of these political debate stories can’t begin with something like “Formidable Temper took the mound at the University of Wisconsin needing to throw a perfect game....
And what would be so bad about: “Balboa worked the corners of the strike zone all night, and did not allow Formidable Temper to take even one free pass.”
Or, why not a hitting analogy, like: “Formidable Temper led off with a sharp single and took advantage of an error to score a couple runs with all three independent voters....”
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If baseball analogies are too boring, why not turn to football? Football is great on just about every other level—so why not in political analogies?
“Every time Balboa tried to pass, Formidable Temper blitzed; sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t....”
And for as many times as both guys have punted it, turned it over, fumbled it, muffed it...wouldn’t you think some writer somewhere should be drawing the comparison?