The current media frenzy over under-inflated footballs in the recent playoff game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts reminds Eags of the Congressional Dumbo frenzy over the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya that resulted in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith. A second attack on a different Benghazi compound, several hours later, resulted in the deaths of two CIA contractors, Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty. A total of four U.S. casualties and the Congressional Dumbos tried to inflate Benghzi to the level of Pearl Harbor. So there is linkage between the conspiracy to conceal the truth about Benghazi and the conspiracy to let air out of eleven footballs on the New England sideline that enabled the Patriots to steal the game by a score of 45-7 from the Colts. So, Eags referred to the football frenzy as Ballghazi. While he was on a football kick, Eags compared the improbable Seattle victory over Green Bay in the other playoff for a berth in Super Bowl XLIX on February 1st to the performance of the POTUS 44 after the SOTU address. If this is the (fair & balanced) fusion of professional football and politics, so be it.
[x NY Fishwrap]
It's How You Finish
By Timothy Egan
Tag Cloud of the following piece of writing
As the world contemplates the deflated football scandal in Boston — ballghazi — please allow me one last moment of undiluted sports delirium. I live in Seattle, where this week the sky is always blue, trees are blossoming early, all children are not only above average but get into the college of their choice, free. We are a city transfixed, rhapsodically floating, after the most are-you-kidding-me experience my hometown has ever been through.
To recap: With a little more than three minutes to go in last Sunday’s N.F.C. championship game, the Seattle Seahawks were trailing Green Bay 19 to 7. At that point, according to the odds crunchers, the team had a 1 percent chance of winning — 1 percent! The Seahawks promptly scored two touchdowns in 44 seconds. They recovered an onside kick, converted a two-point Hail Mary, won the coin toss to get the ball first in overtime, and scored to put them in the Super Bowl.
Sports metaphors crowd the language of politics, usually for the worse. John McCain’s pick of an uninformed demagogue, Sarah Palin, was supposed to be a “game changer.” Desperate campaigns look for a “knockout punch,” or make a “swing for the fences.” My favorite is President Obama’s description of Joe Biden’s endorsement of gay marriage ahead of his boss — he “got out a little bit over his skis.”
But back to the miracle finish last Sunday, and the lesson beyond pro football: It’s not about the miracle, it’s about the finish. Obama has been sleepwalking through the middle part of his presidency. The brutal midterm electoral crushing, with Republicans gaining their largest House majority since Herbert Hoover, slapped him from his stupor.
No longer does he care about pleasing the insiders, or playing nice with the opposition, or conforming to the expectations of a lame duck. He said it’s the fourth quarter of his presidency, “and I’m going to play offense.” He’s decided to be Russell Wilson after throwing four interceptions.
Many have written him off. The reliably dyspeptic Charles Krauthammer said the epitaph of the Obama presidency would be: “He couldn’t govern, but he sure knew how to campaign.” And yes, little of what Obama proposed in his State of the Union address will find its way out of the dead zone of Congress. Just 5 percent of his 2013 proposals became law — and that was before Republicans gained the Senate.
The president’s proposals “are so out of touch you have to ask if there’s any point to the speech,” said Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee.
But if you look beyond capital gasbags, and consider the big ideas in Obama’s speech, you can see the inevitability of his philosophy. His proposals — raising the minimum wage, paid maternity leave, making college more affordable and the tax system more fair — are popular across the political divide. They’re mainstream anywhere but the fund-raisers that Reince Priebus presides over.
Obama has already changed health care in a country that lags far behind the rest of the world in access. He’s overseen an economic recovery that defied all the apocalyptic predictions of his enemies, and would be the envy of any European country — let alone one governed by Mitt Romney, who’d be taking a victory lap with the kind of numbers Obama has generated on his watch.
Consider Idaho, arguably the reddest state in the union, where Republicans control everything but a handful of latte stands. After much bluster and protest, Idaho politicians caved and set up a state health care exchange under Obamacare. To the surprise of the experts, Idahoans have embraced the private coverage available under the Affordable Care Act — “one of the most successful enrollments of any state,” as Kaiser Health News reported.
Obama was in Boise on Wednesday, speaking to a crowd of more than 6,000 people at an event where all tickets were gone within an hour. “Now there are 10 black people in Idaho,” was one of the tweets from Boise. The president was fully energized, jocular, primed for a strong finish. A handful of protesters held up the usual hate posters, one comparing him to Hitler. But it did not escape notice that his motorcade passed a Shell station selling regular gasoline for $1.77 a gallon.
To the west, in the Eastern Washington district of Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, people represented by this robotically doctrinaire leader of the Republican House have signed up for Obamacare coverage at a rate far beyond the national average.
To the east, Gov. John Kasich of Ohio told a group of Montana Republicans this week that they would be crazy not to embrace the president’s program of health coverage for the poor. “I gotta tell you, turning down your money back to Montana on an ideological basis, when people can lose their lives because they get no help, doesn’t make a lot of sense to me,” he said, in remarks reported by the Great Falls Tribune.
Nearly every proposal in the State of the Union address polls with majority approval, nationwide. The great issue of the early 21st century is how to elevate a stagnant middle class. When 80 people hold the same amount of wealth as 3.6 billion of the world’s poorest, that equation of inequality can catch the attention of even the most heartless.
So, to the end game, in Idaho, Kansas and beyond. “It’s amazing what you can bounce back from when you have to,” Obama said on Tuesday. He was quoting from a Minneapolis woman, invited to the speech, but it sounded like a motto for his last two years in office.
The president is playing for a legacy. He won’t get much of it this year, or even next. But eventually, if Obama’s finish matches the flourish of the last two months, the United States will resemble the country he envisioned on Tuesday night. Long odds make for better endings. Ω
[Timothy Egan writes "Outposts," a column at the NY Fishwrap online. Egan — winner of both a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 as a member of a team of reporters who wrote the series "How Race Is Lived in America" and a National Book Award (The Worst Hard Time in 2006) — graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in journalism, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Whitman College in 2000 for his environmental writings. Egan's most recent book is The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America (2009).]
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