Football is also heavily scripted and entirely deliberate, very nearly robotically so. A recent study (can’t find cite…) of a sampling of games showed that, on average, only 11 minutes of each 1 hour game clock is actual play. The rest is deliberation, setup, positioning and waiting while the clock is ticking.
Basketball is, ostensibly, a non-contact sport: You have to achieve your objective without hurting your opponent. Basketball, too, mostly happens on the fly. There are plays, but most never stay intact for more than a few seconds. The objective, too, is relatively small: a dunk, however spectacular, is still only worth 2 points. And instead of one or two plays making all the difference, you have to string together play after play all the while standing up to an equally relentless opponent (well, unless you’re playing the Nets… but I digress)
The point is that Obama is playing basketball for people who came to see a football game…
The recent fixation on the Bush tax cuts is an excellent example: Obama got much more than he gave. But progressives aren’t interested in what he got. They are mostly incensed that the GOP didn’t lose. This isn’t particularly surprising as any morally intelligent person can tell you that the GOP so solidly deserves to lose. The progressives, it seems, have turned on Obama not because he is effective at getting the policy he wants (he is) but that he is perceived as ineffective when it comes to punishing the opponent. They’ve twisted Obama from an advocate to a failed avenger.
In Petr’s Political Bestiary, the definition of an independent is ‘someone who despises Republicans but nevertheless believes everything they say about the Democrats’ in a similar manner the definition of a modern day progressive seems to be ‘An agnostic who, nevertheless, is desperately seeking a Messiah’. A long string of purported messiahs like Howard Dean and Wes Clark, amongst others, culminated, so they thought, in the election of Barack Obama and, frankly, because he’s not the messiah they thought he was, ready to rain down righteous unstoppable punishment on the GOP, they turn on him. In the same vein of looking for a single person who’ll cover all bases, they seek a single definitive and cathartic victory. And with each passing fight being compromised upon, this all consuming and vindicating victory seems less and less likely.
But politics, much like basketball, and less like football, is a game of small victories and relentless forward motion. Basketball rewards sublety and the instantaneous pivot and punishes the wrong kind of aggression. The Obama administration, in only two years, has vastly outpaced the Clinton administration for motion in the progressive direction and for having got the better of the GOP. If we were in a game of basketball, this particular quarter would seem fairly even… but the overall score would look more like a Harlem GlobeTrotters game…. and Obama ain’t the Washington Generals.