With Karl Rove telling Republicans to tack away from the Tea Party, can President Obama and the Democrats land enough jabs to make it game-set-match? (More)

Politics 8 Meta 4, Part I – The Favorites

This week Morning Feature hosts a cage match to crown The Best Sport For Political Metaphors. Today we meet the Favorites, sports whose metaphors we hear most often. Tomorrow the underdog Challengers will take the field. Saturday we’ll see who’s left standing at the finish line.


A veteran of the political game, baseball boasts a .385 lifetime average. Over a third of its metaphors made points worth considering. That would be awful as a quarterback’s completion rate and worse as a foul shooting percentage, but in baseball you don’t expect success very often. That alone makes baseball a serious contender in the realm of political metaphors.

It also has a deep lineup. There’s the venerable Home Run, often the result of an opponent’s Hanging Curve, although the Base (not Stolen) usually want to swing at every Wild Pitch. Cheaters can Throw Dirt In The Umpire’s Eyes, though he still Calls Em As He Sees Em, and often that’s a Strikeout of the Swing And A Miss variety. There’s also the Sacrifice (Shared) or, as ordinary working folks call it, the Squeeze Play. It also offers the perfect substitute for arcane procedures; fans and even most players don’t understand the Infield Fly Rule. We won’t even mention Spit Takes.

But baseball’s biggest point of similarity is its pace of play. You can take a political news break – a trip to the concession stand to get Hot Dogs And Apple Pie for Motherhood – knowing that little will have changed when you get back. But hey … It’s A Long Season.


Football’s metaphors do best in Critical Third Down Situations, usually said to be At The Goal Line. Regardless, fans know the correct play is to Quit Playing Prevent Defense and Throw The Long Ball. At least until election day – the Super Bowl – when everything hinges on the Ground Game. This is how we choose presidents, always Quarterbacks, whom we expect to score Touchdowns.

Sadly, football metaphors spend most of their time in a Huddle while we watch endless Instant Replays. Then they Punt, or Kick The Can Down The Road. No one knows how the ball became a can or the field became a road. Maybe by the same formula used to calculate Quarterback Ratings.


Although a popular sport, basketball’s contribution to politics is usually limited to the Slam Dunk. Ironically, most of these Clang Off The Iron, although a few are Nothing But Net. Perhaps the sport will Rebound, but for now it’s a Jump Ball. Like a political debate, except that’s the realm of….


After rehearsing with Sparring Partners, political candidates who have Thrown A Hat In The Ring usually Square Off for a verbal Donnybrook. Or at least that’s how they’re billed. We’re told to expect Haymakers and Uppercuts, though if a candidate attempts one it is usually decried as a Low Blow. There is rarely a Knockout Punch. Instead they Land A Few Jabs and try to Win On Points. More often it’s a Split Decision that could have been avoided if only they’d Take The Gloves Off. In the primaries this process continues until the losers Throw In The Towel. Maybe to cover the hat.

So those are the Favorites. Tomorrow we’ll look at the Challengers.


Happy Thursday!