Baseball, politics and Palin vs. Biden

I’m up at hollyhock for open everything, having an amazing time. Fantastic people and unbelievable conversations. In addition, want to say thank you to the emails and text-messages(!) asking me to blog on Palin. Okay, but be careful what you ask for…

There is a long and glorious history of baseball analogies in American politics. Among the most famous was during Jim Hightower’s 1988 Democratic convention speech when he roared: “George Bush was born on third base and decided that he’d hit a triple.”

More recently, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland rifted of this line at this years Democratic Party Convention, saying “You know, it was once said of the first George Bush that he was born on third base and thought he’d hit a triple. Well, with the twenty two million new jobs and the budget surplus Bill Clinton left behind, George W. Bush came into office on third base. And then he stole second.”

Playing along this theme, I’ve got a baseball analogy that sums up my thinking of the Biden and Palin VP nominations.

Biden was a good, safe hit. Probably a solid double. Nothing fancy – that’s for sure. But no baseball player will ever complain about hitting a double. No points scored, that’s for sure. But runners are in scoring position.

Selecting Palin was more like a bunt – specifically a squeeze play bunt. No one expects it, the defense isn’t ready for it. In this case, the crowd certainly wasn’t either.

Most critically the squeeze bunt is a low odds play. It’s only used by a manager desperate for some points on the board or worse, by one who has poor judgment. Is McCain desperate? Definitely. Has he exercised poor judgment? He’s definitely taken a serious risk but his judgment will be determined by the results.

The upside, regardless of all this, is that the choice got the fans excited. There is no doubt that we are all focused on Palin. The only question is… for better or worse?

Ultimately, we are about to witness an amazing race: Can Palin’s charisma and buzz keep her ahead of the scandals and baggage that are chasing her? The right wing blogosphere, seeing only the charisma and conservative bona fides, says yes. The left wing blogosphere, seeing only the scandals, says no. My sense, is if the republicans can keep her appearances completely managed – if she can avoid a single press scrum – she will be a dangerous weapon. The only Democrats who underestimate here, are those who’ve already forgetten they’ve been beat for 8 years by a man they repeatedly labelled the dumbest president in history. That didn’t stop him from beating them. Twice.

At some point Palin is going to explode – the only question is, can the republicans shape her to detonate against the democrats in an effective, populist attack, or will she explode while still in their camp. Either way, It’ll be fun to watch.

7 thoughts on “Baseball, politics and Palin vs. Biden

  1. Dave Donovan

    I think you're right about the risk/rewards of Palin, but I think a better analogy is a player gets up to bat, the manager signals a bunt (the GOP), which is the safe play, but the player (McCain) decides to ignore the manager's signal and swing for the fences. Higher risk, but great potential pay off (a home run).I might be the only Canadian I know (well, maybe Adam Daifallah) who thinks McCain is a good choice for president and has a good chance to actually win. In my opinion, the Palin pick signifies that he's more politically astute than many people think or want to give him credit for (i.e. NY Times).

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  2. jeremyvernon

    I feel compelled to say that was an uncomfortable (accidental) suicide bomber allusion in that last paragraph – though not inaccurate.It's clear that McCain wanted America to identify with one of the candidates – to have their citizen-surrogate within his own party. He's positioned it in such a way that any attack on her is an attack on American women everywhere – or at least it takes little effort to spin it thusly.It speaks to how catastrophically broken and corrupt the election mechanics have become when such a bone-headed choice is actually strategic. She's stupid, unqualified, arrogant and hate-filled.

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  3. Michael Molson

    Palin – hmmmm….well, we will certainly find out after this election how much of the electorate is structurally ensconced as republicans and how many are true indies.I can't imagine a more polarized race. At best all you could say about Bush/Gore was that Gore blew it and Bush didn't make any mistakes.Now we will really find who votes what in the States.

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  4. Jason H

    I totally agree with you – she is a lethal weapon and I just shake my head at the Democrats who totally misunderestimate her. They never seem to learn.

    Reply
  5. Anne M

    Great analogy, David. I'm learning about baseball AS I gain political insight! I agree with your analysis. Jason H — While some news reporters might underestimate her, I'm not sure the Democratic strategy machine will do likewise – there is so far no evidence of that. (And I think many Obama supporters are also anything but complacent – I heard that within a few days of the announcement of the Palin choice, the Democrats had received over US$10 million in small donations, and the GOP $2 million.) A Question: Does anyone think the Obama game-plan have been similarly strengthened with his Party's traditional base, giving him more solid traction with older voters, esp women — had he selected Hillary Clinton for his running mate? Or is the choice of Biden the best play from a risk/reward persepctive. I think it is clearly more likely to win over the millions of American Alpha Males who would never, not ever, — not in our lifetimes! — vote for a Presidential ticket featuring a mediagenic black man & hyper-brainy, post-reproductive woman?

    Reply
  6. Anne M

    Great analogy, David. I'm learning about baseball AS I gain political insight! I agree with your analysis. Jason H — While some news reporters might underestimate her, I'm not sure the Democratic strategy machine will do likewise – there is so far no evidence of that. (And I think many Obama supporters are also anything but complacent – I heard that within a few days of the announcement of the Palin choice, the Democrats had received over US$10 million in small donations, and the GOP $2 million.) A Question: Does anyone think the Obama game-plan have been similarly strengthened with his Party's traditional base, giving him more solid traction with older voters, esp women — had he selected Hillary Clinton for his running mate? Or is the choice of Biden the best play from a risk/reward persepctive. I think it is clearly more likely to win over the millions of American Alpha Males who would never, not ever, — not in our lifetimes! — vote for a Presidential ticket featuring a mediagenic black man & hyper-brainy, post-reproductive woman?

    Reply

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