Filler: If only political partisans were like sports fans
For years I've bemoaned the zany symmetry between political partisans and sports fanatics: Both love their teams no matter how badly they play, and despise rivals no matter how well they perform. But the comparison no longer holds up.
Now, the average face-painted, topless, frostbitten fans who name children after favorite players ("Isn't little Derek Marie just darling?") possess the fair-mindedness of Solomon, compared with committed Republicans and Democrats.
Even Mets fans so rabid they have full-body orange and blue tattoos can admit it when one of their players can't get the job done. "You know how much I love the team," one might say. "Just ask my daughter, Strawberry Throneberry Ann. I cheer so loud it damaged her nervous system. Seriously, she's in therapy. But Jason Bay makes contact less often than astronomers searching for intelligent life in space."
So when was the last time a true party loyalist, or commentator, admitted one of their starters blew it?
Imagine hearing an average liberal or MSNBC spinner say "I love Obama, but this is 2012. You can't say 'You didn't build that,' talking about people's businesses, and not think Republicans will create a sound-bite nine-iron to whack you with. Does this man think he's running for student body president or president of the United States?"
Ditto Romney's classic feel-good statement, "I like being able to fire people." Everyday conservatives and Fox News commentators shouldn't have whined about context. They should have given Romney the same beat-down Yankees fans calling in to WFAN give A-Rod when he fails to deliver at a clutch moment, or rather, daily.
"Yeah, Rush, first-time caller, longtime listener. I just want to say we won't win with Mitt if he keeps making errors. 'I like to fire people?' I know it wasn't the whole quote, but this is big-league politics. If it wasn't past the trading deadline, I'd say we make a deal for Pawlenty, Santorum and a creationist to be named later and start the rebuilding process now, 'cause 'I like to be able to fire people' won't get it done."
I could live with the fact that the Dems and GOPers stand up for their own no matter what. Blind loyalty, while it isn't as fine a trait as, say, perceptive, moral, fact-based decision-making, does have a certain stupid nobility.
The blind loyalty looks good when you compare it to the out-and-out lying we're seeing.
Liberals last week tried to make terrible job growth and the unemployment rate, down from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent, sound good for Obama. It was the equivalent of a baseball broadcaster, on a called third strike, yelling, "It's hit hard and it's . . . a home run!"
The unemployment rate went down because hundreds of thousands of people became so downcast they quit trying to find work. It's not a home run. It's an inning-ending strikeout. To say otherwise, when everyone can plainly see the truth, smacks not just of partisanship but of insanity.
Likewise, Mitt Romney's statement that the Obama administration had apologized to terrorists after they killed an American ambassador and three staffers was, early on, a mistake based on a misunderstanding. Later, when Romney knew better and refused to change his tune, it became a lie.
But the conservatives calling it a stirring defense of our nation and the First Amendment are like NASCAR broadcasters exulting over the victory of a race car that clearly flipped 17 times and burst into flames on the first lap of the race.
The dishonesty is enough to make me shield my daughter from politics altogether. From now on, it'll be all sports for me and little Ron Paulette Filler.