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Not since the Lincoln-Douglas debates has the adage “politics is a spectator sport” been more applicable than the 2016 GOP contest. In Louisiana, we demand our politicians entertain us (hence the recurring affection for Edwin Edwards), so the 2016 political season is a Bayou State blowout thus far.
We have an equally long, and often deeper, commitment to our football teams and stars. There is common agreement among locals that the turning point for New Orleans’ recovery and rebuilding was the reopening of the Superdome, the return of the Saints and Steve Gleason’s breathtaking, game winning blocked punt. The confidence we would succeed was cemented with our 2009 Super Bowl victory. Not bad for a city presumed eternally destined to “manage decline” and a team long regarded as the “Aints.”
To save my sanity while my beloved country is slipping into a dark abyss, I like to think New Orleans and football provide an antidote for what ails us as a nation. So, play along with me…. as the presidential and football seasons officially kicked off (pun intended) concomitantly, let’s play political Fanduel.
While the unprecedented size of the field has produced deafening lamentations and no little amount of armchair coaching, there’s not one unqualified player in the field. So we have to try to remain calmly circumspect and think long term as we begin the arduous process of distinguishing among the superstars and ferreting out the critical political QB.
If we were putting together our dream team, our job would be over. The pre-season debate was promising, but the first real game was rockin great, displaying much well rounded talent. Last night was a stellar one for all, even the bench team. The refs (moderators) scrutinized the tapes and put every contestant through one grueling play after another and up against every form of opposition.
Everyone was suited up and came to play. All played to their strengths, compensated for their weaknesses. No one punted, fumbled or was sacked. Some played hurt, but everyone got their jerseys dirty from the opening coin toss. The conservative team’s overall performance portends a promising season.
With the GOP brand so tarnished and defeatism plaguing conservatives, it is critical the whole field bring their best game. Overcoming eight years of heartbreaking, gut wrenching amateur (dare we say, “JV”) performance, will take some confidence building. The playbook has to be clearly articulated and the team supported. No QB can save a bad strategy and weak players, but the QB does determine the mindset, the drive, the faith, the will to fight and win for the team. The record-shattering QB wants to win not just every game, but every play and the team and fans follow his lead.
The whole field played well, with some stand out moves (Chris Christie on the point of elections. i.e., the people; Marco Rubio on speaking Spanish; Ben Carson on “boot licking billionaires”; Ted Cruz on Syria; everybody on their “thump Trump" moves).
While the irrefutably overinflated but seemingly indestructible Fan Fave Donald Trump won’t be penalized for his signature end zone antics and unnecessary roughness, his unforced errors won’t go unnoticed: challenging opponents with home court advantage (Jeb Bush on his casino record; Carly Fiorina on her HP record; Scott Walker on his economic record), and he should be cited for unsportsmanlike conduct (refusing to give non-player Columba Bush a pass; playing cutesy with Fiorina’s appearance AGAIN).
Though everyone can claim ground gained, my vote for Debate II MVP goes to Carly Fiorina for consistent poise in the pocket. On every play, she knew when, where, and how far to pass, (Iran, Russia, “fish in water”); was fearless but not reckless (every woman heard Trump clearly); she called successful audibles, (spot-on in-bounds head shots at The Donald).
She played outside her sweet spot, unexpectedly intercepting and/or stripping the ball (25 years of doing nothing) and managed to avoid being tackled despite no protection (i.e., the only player sans the suit and tie protective gear). No matter what position she was thrust in, she gained more ground with fewer plays.
The season is just starting; other players will get their star turns and some will be traded out. But for the first time in a long time, this frustrated conservative is as excited about the political season as I am about my sainted Saints. GEAUX GOP.