Just like baseball teams and really any other sports franchise, politicians also are enterprises. They may not be incorporated in quite the same way and maybe the legal terminology is different but look at the facts. They have to build a brand around a name. They want to figure out how to get you, the consumer, to spend your hard-earned cash on whatever it is they happen to be peddling. They have no trouble floating with the winds of whatever fad has taken the country by storm at a certain point in time. The sad fact of the matter is that Jimmy Stewart’s Mr. Smith never really existed except for in our collective imagination.
But this is where it gets fun. Sure, it’s easy to compare different sports franchises with different companies, expounding on their similarities and noting the token differences. But if politicians are corporations, too, how do they stack up against their private sector counterparts?
Well, luckily for you, RSBS is here to fill you in. Since we don’t have enough time to go down the list and match up every politician with the business that he most resembles, we’re just going to use the four most important politicians of the moment, the presidential and vice-presidential candidates. So, without further ado, RSBS presents: Candidate, Inc.
We begin with the sitting president and initiator of one of the most formidable marketing campaigns of recent memory, Barack Obama. His meteoric rise from being born to a single mother to Chicago neighborhood organizer to President of the United States is the American Dream personified. It hasn’t always been easy and six months ago it seemed that his run had finally come to an end. But somehow he used his rivals’ mistakes and his own impressive skills to claw himself back from the edge of ruin. Sound familiar? It should because it’s pretty similar to the same path taken by one of the companies he saved, General Motors.
Joe hasn’t always had an easy ride, even if it’s sometimes self-inflicted. But the man just keeps coming back. Severe stutter as a child? Bounces back. Wife and daughter die in a car crash? Bounces back. Makes vaguely racist remarks about a fellow candidate? Bounces back. Sure, he may not have ended up being number one but vice-president ain’t too shabby neither. And Joe has his moments. Remember when he managed to drop an f-bomb on national television? Or when he basically called the Republicans the reincarnation of Southern plantation owners? You may not always love him and he may not have come out on top but the man has something. Kind of like the Ford Motor Company.
Moving to the other side of the aisle, we have the scion of a wealthy and well-connected political family who just can’t seem to figure out what that all means. Sure, he’s ambitious and it’s obvious that he’ll go to all sorts of lengths to win. But what does he really do? What does he really stand for? Does he attend NASCAR races to see fast cars driving in circles or to hang out with the team owners? He’s kind of like Kodak. Like Kodak, he had all the keys to success but then he couldn’t figure out how to reinvent himself when the paradigm shifted. He was successful as governor mainly because he worked with the other party and even adopted some of their policies. And you know what? It worked! But then his digital camera moment came along, the Tea Party, and despite having all the advantages, he just can’t seem to put it together. The way things are going now, Romney appears set to follow in Kodak’s tracks. I’m pretty sure losing the presidential election would hurt just about as bad as being dropped from the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
And finally we come to the baby of the group, the newcomer who in the past two years pretty much has come to define what “Republican” means today. The “Paul Ryan Budget” plan, the championing of causes close to the hearts of the Tea Party faithful, his anointment as heir apparent and placement on the presidential ticket. It’s an amazing valuation for a young and relatively unknown congressman. In fact, it reminds me a lot of another brand that rode to national prominence based on similar parlor tricks. However, when you ask how Enron‘s stock is faring today, the best you can hope for is a look of awkward questioning as the other person hopes you’re just joking. It turns out that it was all just smoke and mirrors. Paul Ryan? Pretty much the same thing.
In today’s political landscape where corporate cash injections pretty much determine the course of events, it makes sense that the candidates themselves would have to begin acting like corporations in order to succeed. But since that mindset has become the de facto organizing principle for everything from baseball teams to high schools, chances are we should probably just get used to it. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to figure out what kind of businesses we’re dealing with.
What race are you paying more attention to? The AL East? AL Central? Presidential?
I suppose that since this is a baseball blog, I should probably say baseball. And, I am keeping an eye on the AL Central, even if the maddening inconsistency of the Tigers has driven me into a self-protective shell. When it comes to politics, though, I just can’t keep myself away.
This is a big year for politics. It’s not just Romney and the Republicans in an attempt to repeal everything that Obama accomplished his first term. It’s also an opportunity for Americans to tell the Tea Party that they don’t represent America. A resounding defeat for Romney could finally show the Republicans that they need to remove the Tea Party cancer that eats at the GOP and their ability to effectively govern.
This past week showed once again how out of touch Romney is and why his Tea Party hijacked presidency would be disastrous. The contrast between Romney’s hasty statement regarding the events in North Africa and Obama’s studied response just illustrates once again which man provides real leadership.
That being said, it’s interesting to note the similarities between the presidential campaign and the baseball season. Both of them last much of the year and it’s hard to tell what’s going to happen until pretty late in the game. Two months ago the Pirates looked like they actually had a shot at making the playoffs. Six months ago it still wasn’t clear who the Republican nominee would be. However, at this point, with less than two months to go before everything is settled, the pieces have started to shake out and the picture has become a little more clear. Or at least we have a clearer idea of who the winners won’t be. Trying to say with any certainty who will still be standing on D-Day is nearly impossible.
I guess the difference for me is the drama. Yes, baseball has plenty of drama but the stakes are limited. Whichever team wins the Series retains their title as champion for one year. The world doesn’t change, except for the world of that team’s fans. An American president can change not only the course of the nation but also of the world. And it only happens once every four years. Now that’s some drama.
Still, I’d really like to see the Tigers end this White Sox charade once and for all. As for the AL East, screw the coasts.
Remember Marge Schott? Despite owning a team that won the World Series and being one of the first women to own a baseball team without inheriting it, she’s still best known for her racist slurs and comments on Hitler’s domestic policies. MLB eventually pushed her into selling the team in an effort to end what had become a huge embarrassment to the game.
Now, Mitt Romney hasn’t yet come out in favor of Hitler’s domestic policies and, although his church has some interesting views on minorities (as do most religions), he hasn’t yet had a George Allen moment. However, he illustrated this week why he isn’t ready to be President.
It’s interesting that Romney’s snafu took place on September 11. The thing that still stands out in my mind about that day in 2001 was the sense of unity afterward. Sure, it didn’t last, but for a few weeks we truly were all “just Americans.” We rallied around our country in its time of need and banded together to support each other.
Compare this with Romney’s response to the killing of US Ambassador Chris Stevens this past week. Instead of rallying behind the President, the country and the diplomats standing in harm’s way, Romney offered the following statement:
It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.
Now, aside from being patently untrue and misleading, a fact which Romney was made aware of and still refused to recant, it was also hardly the time or place to make such a statement, while the attacks were still ongoing and it was unclear how many people had died. It’s also telling that the statement was made without having all the facts and contained blatant lies. Granted, unapologetic lies have become a mainstay of the Romney-Ryan campaign but when it comes to Americans serving and dying for their country overseas, there’s simply no excuse for slandering them and their Commander-in-Chief.
It’s still possible that Romney could win the election. It’s also likely that he will continue this line of attack. But it’s essential that American voters see Romney for who he really is, just like MLB eventually had to do with Marge Schott.
Obama/Biden is hardly the Cabrera/Fielder combination it once was. Should the president drop Joe?
Apparently the VP’s comments about the big banks putting “y’all back in chains” under a Romney administration have set off a firestorm of criticism. Of course the Romney campaign indignantly declared this a new low in an election that will surely reach entirely new lows over the next few months. But if you take a step back, none of this should really come as a surprise. It’s just Biden being Biden.
Anyone who follows politics knows that Joe Biden is a walking gaffe machine. I mean, this is the man who famously referred to the future President as “articulate and bright and clean.” At least this time he’s pointing his rhetorical weapons of mass destruction at the other side. And let’s be honest here, that’s part of the reason why Obama brought him on board as VP in the first place. It’s also one of the reasons why there’s absolutely no reason for the President to drop him now.
Honestly, Biden’s moment last week was a godsend for the Obama campaign. It followed news of the Paul Ryan pick, a moment that was supposed to change the election debate to matters of the economy and the budget. Instead, the press and everyone else is talking about Biden’s statement. Add in that it fires up an important part of the Democratic base, black Americans, and I really don’t see where this is hurting the Obama campaign at all. Biden’s “gaffes” often serve to humanize both him and the President he serves. They also give the campaign a way to say something while still claiming plausible deniability. “Hey, we didn’t ask him to say that. That’s just Biden being Biden. However, now that you mention it….” Sounds like a winning strategy to me.
More than that, though, Obama has no desire to get rid of Biden because Biden is the guy who turns the Obama strategy into reality. You think the Affordable Care Act gets passed without Biden making calls and twisting arms? You think “Don’t ask, don’t tell” gets repealed without Joe putting in some face time? Sure, sometimes he may force the President’s hand, like with his comments on gay marriage, but is that such a bad thing? Here’s an even better analogy. Biden is COO to Obama’s CEO. And trust me, being CEO without an effective COO is a painful proposition. Just ask George HW Bush about that one.
Should Obama drop Joe? Hell no.
The Pirates were a perennial losing franchise?
Bob Costas’ pretentious Olympian superlatives weren’t pretentious because they were about baseball, something the man truly loves?
I mocked Sarah Palin’s mocking of Obama’s proposed “hopey-change” politics?
Everyone discounted the Cardinals’ playoff hopes with three weeks left in the season?
The GOP wasn’t an absolute joke?
Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise was the greatest thing that ever happened in comic book film history? (WARNING: Major spoiler alert with that link)
NBC didn’t ruin every single sporting event it broadcasted?*
US American politicians really worked for the people?
And remember when you didn’t hate me ‘cuz I was right?
*Not including the XFL, which was a brilliant endeavor, even if it was extremely stupid.
A couple years ago I was out with some friends and even though it was still early in the night, one of the guys started dancing with a relatively unattractive young lady and making overtures to convince her to come with him and get out of the place. When I say early, it wasn’t even midnight yet and the place was open for another couple hours. It didn’t make any sense to me because a bevy of beautiful young ladies were still floating around, getting drunk and and seemingly unattached. I couldn’t understand what was happening because this guy isn’t bad looking, has an interesting job and should be able to do better.
As soon as possible, I pulled him aside and asked what he was thinking. He listened to my arguments for a moment and, once I had finished, responded with three words: “Go ugly early.”
In retrospect, he had a point. At the end of the night, all the pretty girls left and the rest of us were still there, desperately and drunkenly hitting on what was left. His thought was, why delay the inevitable when you can take care of things early and be assured of some sort of result. It may not be a winning strategy in terms of quality but it seems to work in terms of quantity.
This is why I’m not all that surprised to see the Presidential race already shaping up to be nasty. I guess if there’s any surprise, it’s that Obama, Mr. “Hope and Change,” seems to have gone there first and seems to be doing so pretty effectively.
Now, I’m actually of the opinion that Obama’s first term has been relatively successful. His actions and those of his team prevented the recession from deepening into a depression. Whether you agree with his politics or not, stepping in to save GM prevented catastrophic job loss at a moment when the economy could have crumbled under the weight of all those jobless people. However, it’s hard to prove a negative so Obama is instead saddled with the weight of continuing economic sluggishness and jobs numbers that just refuse to grow.
But that’s not the story at this point. Sure, it’s the summer and that means the undecided voters haven’t really tuned in yet. But it was also summer when the Bush campaign launched its “Swiftboat” campaign against John Kerry and when people finally started paying attention, that had become part of the narrative. Obama has managed to “Swiftboat” Romney with the tax return issue and if history serves, the issue will still be front and center come September when voters tune back in.
The story becomes even more interesting if you buy into the theory floated by Businessweek earlier this week. Romney has adamantly refused to release his 2009 tax returns despite calls by some in his own party to do so. This “lack of transparence” has damaged Romney’s standing but still he holds firm. Why? Well, Businessweek’s hypothesis is, maybe Romney didn’t pay any taxes that year!
It makes sense. The very wealthy took a bath in the 2008 crash but losing a lot one year often means a huge tax break the following year. So, if Romney’s fortunes took a dive, it’s natural and perfectly legal that he didn’t pay any taxes the next year. However, try explaining that to the millions of unemployed out there or the sizable number of voters already paying a higher tax rate than Romney in a normal year. The American electorate is notoriously immune to nuance. News of Romney not having to pay taxes in 2009, justified or not, could pretty much lock up re-election for Obama.
So, Team Romney sits tight and continues to get battered from all sides. Maybe they’re playing a Muhammad Ali rope-a-dope and want to wait until the news cycle is in their favor before releasing what might be completely innocuous tax returns. Or maybe they’re just going to play it this way all the way through to the end. All I know is that if Obama does win in November, you can chalk part of it up to my buddy’s strategy. Go ugly early.
With summer temperatures slowly creeping up on us, the potential for flop-sweat induced wedgies at the ballpark is on the rise, making an afternoon or midmorning rain shower a pleasant respite for anyone wanting to spend some serious time unstuck at the game. Though it is not widely known, making it rain isn’t quite as difficult as one might think. Here are three simple methods:
1. Be Different
As my doleful and oft unctuous colleague, Mr. Krause, taught us, sometimes, making it rain is just a matter of doing the opposite of what’s expected of you.
2. Be Ignorant
This is an easy method for rain-making, especially for those US Americans who reside in the realm of absurdity. I recall Focus on the Family asking their invisible friend to make it rain in Denver, to drown out the “changes” being outlined by Obama at the 2008 DNC.
3. Be Livan Hernandez
This is the easiest, most economical way to make it rain. In fact, I’m doing it right now… to the guy in the cubicle next to me.
Hate me ‘cuz I makes it rain, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.