Friday, October 01, 2004

Winning ugly

Back in the early and mid 90s, I and several thousand other Alabama fans used to gripe, whine, bitch and moan about the conservative, boring style of Stallings-coached Crimson Tide teams. Every week on “Tide Talk,” Bama fans would ask the same questions: why don’t you throw it more, Coach? Why not go up top on first down? Why do you run it up the middle 60 times a game? Why did you run out the clock before the end of the half instead of trying to put another score on the board? Why did you kick the 20 yard field goal instead of trying to stick it in for a TD?

When Stallings retired after 7 seasons as Bama’s head coach, we glanced back over his record, a little surprised at the results: 70 wins in 7 seasons, and a national championship to boot. Not bad—actually, pretty damn dominant.

Every time I watch W. debate, I get that familiar Stallings feeling. His opponent, time after time, leaves a hole in his defense big enough to drive a truck through—in this case, the vote against troop funding, or the “coerced and bribed” comment, or the suggestion that Allawi is a mere puppet of the U.S., or take your pick of about ten other examples—and what does W. do? Three more yards and a cloud of unintelligible gibberish. Sometimes, W. manages to hit the hole, but a la Dennis Riddle, he trips over his own feet and takes a facemask full of turf; other times, he looks up top to a wide-open receiver, but a la Freddie Kitchens, he tosses the ball three rows deep into the stands or bounces it off his lineman’s helmet. I scream and cuss at the television while banging my forehead into the coffee table.

And then the 90 minutes is up. The post-debate reaction begins. And once again, W. wins ugly by pounding away and refusing to fumble.

Yes, I know the popular opinion is that Kerry “won” the debate—but so did Gore in 2000. W. is playing a different game; “winning” the debates is the political equivalent of racking up gaudy offensive stats. Meanwhile, Bush remains focused on the November 2nd scoreboard—the only statistic that matters at all.

As Kerry scored big Debate Club points, he managed to turn the ball over a couple of times—most notably with the “global test” comment. And just as Gene Stallings knew, winning the turnover battle—screwing up less than your opponent—is the ultimate key to winning the game.

And looking back at Bush’s record—taking apart the vaunted Ann Richards, staying out of the way as Professor Gore self-destructed—one must admit: whether Bush is a good debater or not, he is an effective politician. Bebes Stallings would be proud.


At 2:55 PM, Blogger MSR said...

Damn fine post, Tortfeasor. That was beautiful.

At 3:42 PM, Blogger MSR said...

Let me rephrase: Strong to quite strong.


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