Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Well, we thought about the game

One of the songs in "Damn Yankees" is called The Game.  At one point the players, incredibly as is the case with all musical numbers, break out in song and croon about how they need to stop thinking about anything else, but the game. "We thought about the game, the game..."   I can remember when I lived in Buffalo, on the eve of the sixth game of an exciting Boston Celtics--Buffalo Braves playoff series, my roommate, now a successful lawyer, walked in to the apartment, tossed his law books on a chair, and began singing "So we thought about the game, the game..."

For what might be obvious reasons, this song has popped into my head the last few days and not because of the Major League Baseball series or the glut of football games that took place this weekend.

The political debate tonight is analogous to a sporting event.  Those of us who have been following the pol/ls and the rhetoric know that this debate is a crucial one that can affect the election and consequently the direction of the country.  Never has it been any more obvious that speaking--the ability to articulate one's thoughts and get an audience to accept them--is a powerful phenomenon. There is the old Daniel Webster quote. "If all my possessions and powers were to be taken from me with one exception I would choose to keep the power of speech, for by it I could soon recover all the rest."

Governor Romney knows this is so.  During the first debate, he was able to wow enough voters to render what had been a one sided contest into a dead heat.  Now, the pressure is on President Obama.

Tonight, one might contend, the pressure is on the New York Yankees to win a game in Detroit lest they go down 3-0 in their best of seven series with the Tigers.  I am rarely one to downplay the significance of sport, but in this situation the pressure on Yankee starter Phil Hughes is nothing compared to the pressure on President Obama.  Republicans and Obama's liberal supporters ridiculed him after the first debate.  Tonight he has the job of winning back the voters who turned lukewarm or cold after the first contest.

It is not melodramatic to write that so much is riding on the outcome of this contest.  Roe vs. Wade will either be the law of the land or history depending on the outcome.  Medicare will either continue as the safety net for seniors or change in a way that is essentially not recognizable.  The country's approach to taxation and war and business and civil liberties will be a function of the outcome. The two candidates have agreed centrally on one issue and they are both right.   The choices in this election are as starkly different as they have ever been--akin to the Nixon-McGovern election of 1972.

I have a standing singles tennis match on Tuesday nights (as long as the two sixty somethings who are combatants are both uninjured at the time).  I wrote to my bud last night and asked if we could change the time so we could watch the debates. He was agreeable, but we both eventually agreed that it would be better on our nervous systems if we played while Romney and Obama were sparring.

I've known people who could not watch a game during the exciting times because they got too nervous. I have almost never felt that way.  However, tonight, I do.

In the seventies I went to see the Thrilla in Manilla in a movie theater.  This, for the uninitiated or young, was the third and rubber bout between Joe Frazier and Muhammed Ali.  More is riding on this bout tonight.

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