Friday, April 03, 2015

10 Years After: 2008 -- The Horse-Race



The 10th blogiversary fundraiser continues with the Hope and Change year of 2008.

As you might have read in the papers, 2008 was an election year, that began on the Left with a brutal, necessary 15-round fight for the Democratic nomination.

On the Right, as the election neared and John McCain's doom became obvious, the world began to fill up with smell of hastily-burned "Bush/Cheney '04" lawn signs and newly minted "independents", the outlines of a new, Conservative "Let's All Pretend We Never Heard Of George Bush" strategy began to take shape, Both Siderism metastasized, and the fight over who gets to be a  "Real Conservative" began.

I was working crazy long hours in 2008 doing important work on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of people who were losing their jobs every day and the Great Recession kicked into high gear.  All of that work stalled out which in November when the overpaid consultant my boss had hired to flatter his ego accidentally left a copy of the new office organization chart in photocopier.

Guess who wasn't on it.



In 2008...

Bill Kristol was hired by the New York Times because reasons and then they promptly laid off all the wrong people

Ted Kennedy decided to back Senator Obama

Mildred Loving died.

Conservatism died.

And I decided that if the Beltway was going to treat elections like a horse-race then, dammit, lets take their lazy trope away from them and make it fit the times:
Obama vs. Clinton


Since the simpletons of the Punditocracy are apparently incapable of thinking outside of the fucking horse race metaphor, I think the least we can do can is make them metaphorize the right one.

It was 70 years ago and one for the ages...

Seabiscuit vs. War Admiral: The Match of the Century (cruelly snipped and cherry-picked from wikipedia to serve my evil ends):
On November 1, 1938, Seabiscuit met War Admiral in what was dubbed the "Match of the Century".
Turnout and national interest were record-breaking...
"The Pimlico Race Course, from the grandstands to the infield, was jammed solid with fans. Trains were run from all over the country to bring fans to the race, and the estimated 40,000 at the track were joined by some 40 million listening on the radio."
The touts heavily favored the tested and experienced War Admiral over the cagey, gangly newcomer...
"War Admiral was the prohibitive favorite (1-4 with most bookmakers) and a near unanimous selection of the writers and tipsters, excluding the California faithful."
The strategies were set...
"Head-to-head races favor fast starters, and War Admiral's speed from the gate was the stuff of legend. Seabiscuit, on the other hand, was a pace stalker, skilled at holding with the pack before destroying the field with late acceleration. From the scheduled walk up start, few gave him a chance to head War Admiral into the first turn."
And to nearly everyone’s surprise...
"When the bell rang, Seabiscuit ran away from the Triple Crown champion. Despite being drawn on outside, Woolf led by over a length after just 20 seconds. Halfway down the backstretch, War Admiral started to cut into the lead, gradually pulling level with Seabiscuit, and then slightly ahead. Following advice he had received from Pollard, Woolf had eased up on Seabiscuit, allowing his horse to see his rival, and then asked for more effort."
And then, history was made:
Two hundred yards from the wire, Seabiscuit pulled away again and continued to extend his lead over the closing stretch, finally winning by four clear lengths.
People are willing to go to war for scraps of cloth called flags.

They are willing to die for scraps of wood called a cross.

And 70 years ago as their world fell apart, Americans were willing to give their hearts away to a horse.

A horse.

Because people are flesh and blood, not circuits and spreadsheets, and we need hope and inspiration every bit as much as we need 10-point programs.

Which unfortunately makes us go weak in the knees for saints and charlatans alike.

Maybe this not the way it should be, but it is the way it is, and as proud members of the Reality Based community we need to accommodate ourselves to the fact that human nature is a force every bit as real and formidable as gravity.

If you do not understand this, you will never understand politics.

Also you will never get laid.

1 comment:

felixwas said...

New reader here. Good stuff. A well-told tale about Then and Now. Time to work backward on your blog now to see what I've missed.