McCain Incites More Sports Metaphors

September 25, 2008

Barney Frank called McCain’s decision to claim that he’s suspending his campaign “the longest Hail Mary pass in the history of either football or Marys”, while Yglesias and the folks at TNR have been posting videos of Chris Webber’s notorious time out. While the early signs are that this is playing poorly for McCain, the former is the better metaphor (though still not the correct one, for the same reasons it wasn’t right for the Palin selection, as explained by Frederick here). Webber never thought to himself “Sure, we don’t have any time outs left, but I’m going to call one anyway. It’s so crazy it just might work.” He made a mistake, one that couldn’t possibly have turned out other than it did. Whereas what the McCain camp has done is clearly a strategy.

This isn’t to say that they’ve been executing it well. They haven’t. For one thing, they should have struck much earlier. It’s not clear at this point what danger he could be responding to that didn’t exist a day or two ago. Worse, their announcement came when the three biggest headlines were Warren Buffett’s investment in Goldman, the holes in McCain’s story about Davis and Freddie Mac, and a poll from ABC and the WaPo giving Obama a 9 point lead. The case for this being a gimmick more or less wrote itself.

But the biggest problem with what most are now calling ‘the McCain Gambit’ is that it puts him in a position where he absolutely needs the media to privilege his spin on at a time when he has just declared war on that same media. Not surprisingly, the coverage has been pretty skeptical so far. It’s far too early to evaluate now, but the gambit has not begun well for him, and it could well prove a disaster.

Indeed, even if the gambit had been executed perfectly, the most likely effect would have been to make McCain look terrible and hurt his efforts to become president. That does not, however, mean that this was a bad idea. McCain is losing. The margin isn’t huge, but it’s too big to go away unless something unusually good happens to him, something unusually bad happens to his opponent, or both. He could have run a clean-cut, conventional campaign and hoped for lightning to strike, but at this point his chances are probably better using every high-risk/high-reward tactic he can think of.

Whatever this might do to our opinions of McCain as a human being, as sports fans, we should all be delighted. Several points down with a few minutes left on the clock, McCain has already pulled his goalie.


One Response to “McCain Incites More Sports Metaphors”

  1. ddave Says:

    Seriously, is this the type of man we want as president?

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