Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Democrats Facing Fourth and Long - Go For It!

Watching football last year, every time I saw a coach call in a field goal on fourth-and-short inside the opponent's 20, I had painful visions of Democrats snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Going for the safe but cowardly 3 points instead of the risky but bold try for seven almost always loses the game for the fearful coach. But year after year they keep making the losing choice.

Just like Democrats.

Gregg Easterbrook, Tuesday Morning Quarterback, rails weekly against these Fraidy-Cat Field Goals. He points out that going for it even on fourth-and-long has better odds than is generally realized, and even if the try fails, the other team gets the ball deep in their own territory, and you have a decent chance of taking it away.

But not even trying causes far more harm than just giving away the three or four more points a touchdown would bring; it tells the team that kicks a Fraidy-Cat Field Goal that its coach doesn't think it can gain 20 yards or 10 or even five. A team that kicks a Fraidy-Cat Field Goal announces to the world that it has already lost the game, because its coach doesn't think it can win.

And almost every time, the Fraidy-Cat team doesn't win, even if it's the team with more talent and should win. Because not going for it creates losers.

But the team that takes that risk, that goes for it on fourth and long deep in its own territory, is invariably rewarded. Even if the try fails, the bold effort gives the team confidence to win the game. Even if they don't win the game, the clear message from the coach that he believes they can win carries over to future games.

The widespread failure to grasp this basic concept is frustrating enough in professional football; in professional politics it's downright fatal.

When Democrats proposed $700 billion in stimulus to fill a $2 trillion hole in economic demand, they announced to the world that they weren't serious about putting the repug-destroyed economy back on track, and they were surrendering the game to the repugs.

When Democrats took the hugely valuable negotiating chip of single-payer off the table before negotiations even started, they announced to the world they weren't serious about health care reform, and that they were handing the ball, and the game, to the repugs.

When Democrats responded to repug obstructionism by watering down critical bills beyond uselessness to actual harmfulness instead of doubling down and daring the repugs to vote against legislation Americans want, they announced to the world they don't really care about protecting and helping Americans, and are letting repugs call all the plays.

When Democrats meekly accept repug refusal to allow votes on dozens of nominees for critical government posts, they announce to the world that a team with 18 fewer players is knocking them senseless and strolling to victory.

When the Democratic Senate Majority Leader surrenders the First Amendment to a bunch of hysterical mouth-breathers, that's forfeiting the Super Bowl.

Remember the Arizona Cardinals before Kurt Warner rode to the rescue? Fewer than 10,000 fans in an 80,000-seat stadium, most of them wearing paper bags over their heads in shame. TMQ called them the Arizona (Caution! May contain football-like substance) Cardinals. Fans of the formerly perennial losers Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints also suffered through their paper-bag stages.

Today, given the repug-caused catastrophe everywhere you look, it should be the republican voters wearing paper bags over their heads, too ashamed to admit their loyalties.

Instead, it's Democratic voters who are too demoralized to drag themselves to the polls to vote for a party that's just going to keep throwing games it should win in a walk.

Twenty-one months ago, we hired someone we thought would be the kind of coach who took bold risks to win. We gave him for a team the biggest congressional majority in 50 years. And instead of the playoff berth that should have been easy, we got a barely .500 season. Yes, a bunch of Senate starters turned out to be busts, we got stuck with some demoralizing divas, and the opposition turned out to be tougher than expected.

But President Obama and the Democratic Senate have been launching Fraidy-Cats kicks every time they get within shouting distance of the goal line.

And now we're on the repugs' 30, down six points with one minute left in the game, facing fourth and 15.

What are you gonna call, coach?

Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....

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