More politics-as-sports

Last week, I confessed that, although the rational side of my brain is undecided between Barack Obama and John McCain, the “portion of my brain that views politics as a sport can’t help ‘rooting’ for Obama” because he is “the scrappy mid-major going up against the staid, boring, established program; he’s Boise State against Oklahoma (‘They said this day would never come: a WAC team in a BCS bowl! Yes, we can!’), he’s Appalachian State against Michigan… or, as McCain might prefer to say, he’s Hawaii against Georgia.”

Now, Ben Smith uses a college-football metaphor, saying that Obama’s 50-state, expand-the-map strategy is the political equivalent of the “spread offense.”

If so, Obama’s definitely going to win Michigan. :)

16 Responses to “More politics-as-sports”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Just to strike pre-emptively here:

    With regard to my Obama-as-Boise analogy: no, it doesn’t matter (contra Jim) that Obama is in some sense the “favorite” in the current political environment. That fact doesn’t reverse the Boise State-Oklahoma analogy, any more than it would flip my rooting interests if, say, BYU were to go undefeated next year and somehow end up in the Rose Bowl against a mediocre Big Ten champion — a 9-3 Ohio State team, for example. BYU might have a better record, they might be ranked higher in the polls, they might be the “favorite,” but they’re still the scrappy mid-major and Ohio State is still the powerhouse. Same with Obama and McCain.

  2. WBV says:


    You’ve worked so hard to sabotage the campaign of Hillary, whom many loyal Democrats felt to be our strongest candidate. Now that Obama’s won the primaries, you confess that you just might go Republican.

    This underscores exactly what Clinton supporters have argued… that Obama won predominantly red states which will never vote for a Democrat in the general elections, while Hillary won precisely those blue and swing states that are necessary for a Democrat to recapture the White House.

    Wish you would have come clean months ago!

  3. Jay Johnson says:

    Are you saying that Obama is actually a polygamist friendly Mormon?

    Because otherwise, nothing in the analogy makes sense.

  4. copndor says:

    Hmmm… That would quell the Muslim rumors.

  5. Jim Hu says:

    Brendan, you have to know that your preemption is waving a red flag, especially when you link to the earlier comment…

    There are several problems with the analogy.

    Obama is a BCS school too. Just like the BCS conferences, the D’s and R’s rig the system to exclude real outsiders. Obama may have used innovative schemes and talent to pull off an unexpected conference championship, but the D’s are still a BCS conference.

    I don’t see how McCain is a traditional powerhouse within the R conference. The base hates him and it’s not like he’s leading a movement within the GOP.

    Historically, the BCS-busters have been kept out of the MNC game. It just doesn’t seem right to draw the analogy by comparing the election of POTUS to a lesser bowl. Otherwise, I’d let the excluded voters of Florida and Michigan have the sports analogy. Obama as Tim Tebow and McCain as Lloyd Carr… old, beaten down early in the season, and written off after losing to Oregon.

    If you want to compare Obama to a BCS buster with an innovative offense, it’s more like Utah vs. Pitt than Boise vs. OU.

  6. Brendan says:

    WBV, what utter nonsense! I really hope you’re joking. I’ve “worked so hard to sabotage” Hillary — not because I was expressing my honest opinions, but because I’m, what, some sort of secret Republican operative?? ROFL!!!

    I haven’t “confessed” anything, and I did “come clean months ago.” I’ve been honest all along about being undecided. I’ve said so numerous times in comments and in posts on my blog. Many commenters have professed not to believe me, but I have been totally clear on that point every time it’s come up. Never once have I promised to vote Democratic in November.

    I will vote for the best candidate for President of the United States. Hillary Clinton was ethically and morally unfit for that office, and thus I would not have voted for her. Luckily, both of the remaining choices have the character to be president, so now I can vote based on the issues. How I vote remains to be seen, but no matter who wins in November, I will never for a moment regret having helped “sabotaged” the campaign of Hillary Clinton.

  7. john quinlan says:


    I wouldn’t worry yourself about it–Brendan may flirt with the idea of “being honestly undecided between Obama and McCain” for a little while, but he will certainly vote for and support Obama. Given what you’ve read on this blog, do you ever really see the Loys supporting a pro-life, anti-gay marriage candidate for President? I don’t. A lot of left-leaning folks will pretend (or maybe even fool themselves) to play coy for a little while so that they can have a talking point about how open-minded they are. “I even really thought seriously about voting for McCain,” they’ll say. But they won’t vote for a pro-lifer, or anti-gay candidate, because, if nothing else, “the Supreme Court’s just too important.” If the blog lasts that long, I put 1-4 odds on Brendan endorsing Barack. But then again, the 39-1 sometimes wins…

  8. Brendan says:

    Oh, and by the way, your red/blue/swing state argument is completely ridiculous, WBV. You say:

    Obama won predominantly red states which will never vote for a Democrat in the general elections, while Hillary won precisely those blue and swing states that are necessary for a Democrat to recapture the White House.

    Winning “blue state” primaries is PRECISELY AS MEANINGLESS as winning “red state” primaries. Kudos to Hillary for winning the California and New York primaries; they mean exactly as much as Obama’s wins in Idaho and Nebraska — namely, nothing, since both candidates would have had the exact same outcome in the general elections in those states (both would win CA & NY, both would lose ID and NE).

    Moreover, just because a Democrat loses a Democratic Primary in a state, including a swing state, does NOT mean they would lose the general election there… or was Hillary really planning to lose Illinois, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Oregon, Wisconsin, Minnesota, etc. etc.? And for that matter, was she planning to only get 10% of the African-American vote in November, and still capture the White House? Of course not. Primaries simply do not mean what you are pretending they mean, as you must know. Your argument is fraudulent on its face.

    Oh, and even if your argument WERE correct, I fail to see how anything I’ve said would “underscore” it, considering I live in Tennessee — a red state that Hillary meaninglessly won.

  9. Brendan says:

    John, you don’t know me as well as you think you do. Among other things, although I am indeed pro-gay-rights and pro-abortion-rights, my philosophy about the proper exercise of judicial power is actually rather conservative. Thus, on many of the hot-button SCOTUS issues, I have decidedly mixed/ambivalent feelings, because my preferred outcome is not necessarily the same thing as my preferred philosophical/judicial approach. My opinions about such things therefore tend to be rather muddled. But in any event, I can pretty much guarantee you that my vote will not be based on fear of a McCain-appointed Supreme Court.

  10. Jim Hu says:

    WBV, I’ve been watching Brendan’s Obama blogging since the beginning, and to claim that he didn’t “come clean” is simply incorrect. He said he was undecided from the start and reminded his readers of that fact regularly. Some of us may doubt that he will recover from his infatuation rooting interest sufficiently to let his head vote, but I completely take him at his word that he’s really undecided, and has been all along.

  11. David K. says:

    Wow Brendan, I didn’t realize you had the power to entirely derail Hillary’s entire campaign! And here i thought it was a combination of her poor planning, philandering husband, Obama’s message of hope and change vs. her fear mongering, her schizophrenic personality shifts, his vastly superior grass roots campaign, and her outright lies. All along it was one guy with a blog. Amazing.

  12. Brendan says:

    P.S. For WBV’s benefit, here are some posts in which I talked about being undecided.

    You’ll see a slow evolution in my views — increasingly anti-Clinton as time goes by, and vacillating slightly on Obama — but it’s an evolution about which I’ve been honest and forthright throughout, and in any event it does not in any way support WBV’s ridiculous thesis.

    December 27: “I’m very much an undecided voter, both among the parties’ choices and between the parties, but if you put a gun to my head and made me rank them right now, I think the outcome would be something like: Biden, McCain, Obama, Clinton, Giuliani, Romney.”

    January 26: “I’d enter a McCain-Obama general election thoroughly undecided.”

    January 27: “I’m at the point of being completely fed up with the Clintons and absolutely ready for something different. That doesn’t mean I’d necessarily support Obama in the general election — I’d be undecided between him and McCain — but for heaven’s sake, get the Clintons off the stage. Enough already.”

    February 25: “I absolutely have not decided who to vote for in November. I lean toward Obama, but it’s only that, a lean. I’ve very open to voting for McCain.”

    February 25: “I would be undecided in either potential general-election race, but I lean Obama in an Obama-McCain race, whereas I lean McCain in a Clinton-McCain race.”

    February 26: “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m undecided about the general election. I lean toward Obama against McCain, I lean toward McCain against Hillary. I’m not going to sit here and give you some kind of definitive answer now [on whether I’d definitely vote for McCain over Hillary]. I really, really do not like Hillary, her tactics, her ethics, etc. But there are a whole bunch of issues that I’d be voting on in November, and I’m just not prepared to make that decision yet.”

    March 18: “I’d no longer describe myself as ‘leaning Obama’ in the general election; I’d now say I’m totally undecided.”

    March 18: “I remain firmly committed to being undecided. :)”

    April 12: “I’m undecided between Obama and McCain.”

    April 23: “I’ve said before that I’d be ‘undecided’ in either general-election scenario, though I might lean Obama vs. McCain and I’d definitely lean McCain vs. Clinton. But, f*** that. Forget ‘lean.’ I don’t know whether I would vote for McCain [against Clinton], but [if she were the nominee,] my only options would be McCain, a protest vote, or abstention. Under no circumstances will I vote for Hillary Clinton for President of the United States if she wins the nomination through this sort of vile, abhorrent, antidemocratic lie.

    May 16: “I myself, as I keep saying, am thoroughly undecided between Obama and McCain at this point”

    May 16: “my uncertainty on [whether Obama’s Iran policy is wise] is one reason (among many) that I’m undecided between Obama and McCain.”

    May 20: “I am an independent blogger, unaffiliated with any campaign and personally undecided between Senators Obama and McCain.”

    May 21: “I’m not torn between Obama and McCain because I think they’re both strong on foreign policy. I’m torn because neither of them has convinced me, yet, that they have a workable overarching plan to fix the mess we’re in. Whichever one can articulate something that makes a modicum of sense will most likely get my vote.”

    May 21 again, a few minutes later, after being challenged by a commenter about whether I’m truly undecided: “I am undecided. In fact, if you put a gun to my head right now and made me choose, I think — *think* — I’d vote for McCain. But it’s really entirely up in the air how I’ll vote in November. I like and admire Obama, but that doesn’t mean I think he’d make the best president. The best Democratic nominee, yes, but that’s only because his opponent is such a lying, conniving, deceitful [bad word]. Against McCain, he doesn’t have such an obvious ‘character’ advantage (both candidates are, as best as I can tell, generally good, decent and honest, though of course not pure or perfect), and I’m not at all sure who I think is, on balance, better on policy.”

    June 4: “I’m not even an Obama supporter. I’m undecided between Obama and McCain.”

    June 4: “Personally, I am not a Democrat — I’m an independent — and although the portion of my brain that views politics as a sport can’t help ‘rooting’ for Obama (he’s exciting! he’s inspiring! he’s shiny!), the rational part of brain, which governs my actual vote, is totally undecided between Obama and McCain.”

    June 6 [after quoting the above line]: “The point is, [Obama is] fun to root for, and that fact bleeds over into my blog coverage. … But none of that necessarily means that I support Obama, because in the end, politics isn’t a sport, and voting isn’t about ‘rooting’ or making jokes, it’s about deciding the future of the country. So yes, I’m undecided. Really.”

  13. jc says:

    Didn’t Obama have a 57 state expand the map strategy? Or is it 59 states. I get confused… :)

  14. Brendan says:


    Well, you know, he has to annex a bunch of Muslim countries so he can have his Islamic caliphate, right? And then appoint Imam Jeremiah Wright as the nation’s spiritual adviser. It all makes so much sense now!

  15. Andrew says:

    copndor, Muslims do polygamy, too.

  16. Alasdair says:

    Andrew – that’s one thing I’ve been wondeering about, in relationship to Sharia …

    Since the US criminalised Mormon polygamy, is Sharia polygamy going to be criminalised, too ?