Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sorry, That Was No Rope-a-Dope, Barack Obama Got His Butt Kicked by Mitt Romney

In a fight between an enthusiastic lie and a tepid truth the former will always win. The most noble of us will hold on to the abstract virtues of the truth. Pragmatists will understand that a win is a win regardless of how it is delivered.

The supporters and allies of the President are trying to "spin" a basic and self-evident fact: Barack Obama got his butt kicked by Mitt Romney in their first debate.

In their efforts to salvage victory from the jaws of (obvious) defeat, Obama's people are making claims about the long game. Apparently, Obama is thinking several steps ahead, and Mitt Romney's naked lies will come back to haunt him as the days to election day tick down. They are also making appeals to Political Science: research indicates that presidential debates have little impact on a given voter's choice come election day, so Obama's defeat in the first debate means little.

These are accurate observations. But, my favorite excuse and explanation is that President Obama is playing a game of rope-a-dope like Muhammad Ali; Obama had baited Romney and will close the deal in the debates to come.

When discussing politics, there is a great temptation to use boxing analogies. However, this temptation does not always make the analogy either a good fit or an apt description of reality.

I am a student of boxing and count Ali as one of my personal heroes. As such, I immediately take notice whenever his name is evoked.

Most folks understand that Muhammad Ali's masterful defeat of George Foreman in the famous "Rumble in the Jungle" fight in Zaire became the stuff of legend because Ali let Foreman pummel him for most of the fight before engineering a masterful comeback in the eighth round. 

Fewer people understand that Ali's rope-a-dope was a brilliant strategy because of its utter surprise and magic. Most importantly, the beauty of the rope-a-dope lies in the fact that Ali managed to win.

If Ali had lost, there would be no memories or great tales of the rope-a-dope; it would have simply been an exercise in pugilistic violence with Ali on the receiving end of an epic beating.

If you lose (or suffer a TKO like Obama did on Wednesday night), there is no great strategy afoot--you simply got taken to the woodshed by a more able opponent. 

In talking to family members, friends, and others who watched the fight in Zaire live those years ago, it was explained to me that Ali's comeback was wondrous because he stood down one of the most dangerous men on the planet, taunted him repeatedly, and then absorbed his blows before delivering a flurry of punches that left his opponent flat on the mat. 

In their first debate, President Obama showed none of Ali's flurry, spirit, tactical wit, or genius. He let Romney pummel him without counter-punching. Obama never provoked, pushed, or taunted Romney into showing his hand, whereupon the President would step in and throw a devastating punch. From Romney's lies about Obama's healthcare policies, to calling him a liar to his face repeatedly, and then saying that Obama was a man child--in essence a black "boy"--the President of the United States stood impotent and flummoxed, stumbling over ubiquitous "umms" and "hmms" as he tried to find a way to retort. 

Romney, with his post-truth dissembling, was open for blows to the body or head about his robber baron capitalism, the disgusting Ayn Rand argument that half the American public are bums and parasites, his outsourcing of American jobs and hiding money overseas, as well as his habit of repeatedly lying about how Obama stole money from Medicare. What was Obama's response? He looked to the referee for help, tried to clench the body, and absorbed more punches. 

Those are not the choices of a ring general like Muhammad Ali. Instead, those are the actions of a man losing a fight, one in which he is over-matched.

During the debate Obama looked distracted and tired. I found myself wondering if he was under prepared. I doubt it: Obama is obsessive about such matters.

Like others, I am more worried that there is some national security crisis afoot or family trouble happening, and this explained Obama's disinterest and lack of engagement during the debate. Excuses matter little here: Mitt Romney was the boxer willing to cheat to win; Barack Obama was the fighter reciting the Queensbury Rules to no end, and for little protection, as his opponent beat him about the head and chest.

History and fate have a sense of humor. I am the second cousin of the former world heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson. Yes, the very same man who my hero viciously beat up in 1965 during their championship bout.

Floyd described one of the paradoxes of the fight game in the following way. There is joy at being knocked out because a fighter could save his pride, the beating would finally stop, and you feel relieved when looking up at the lights from a horizontal position. You gave it your all. You fell as a warrior. Your pride was spared. 

In watching Barack Obama's first debate with Mitt Romney, I was reminded of my cousin's observation. Obama looked like a fighter who wanted to get knocked out so that he could just go home. If the President continues with that approach he will soon be returning to Hyde Park, his bags packed, as Romney moves into the White House. 

Mitt Romney will do anything to become President. Barack Obama, if he does not understand that fact now, had best start putting nails in his gloves, and coming in close to do some rabbit punching and dirty boxing in order to win. He cannot let it go to the judges and the scorecards; the Republicans are in the process of rigging the election to ensure a win if that outcome occurs. Consequently, Barack Obama must score a knockout by any means necessary.


Shady_Grady said...

Well I think Romney has Obama's attention now. In the next debate the President probably won't look so bored and peevish.

Black Sage said...

The presidential debate between Obama and Romney conjured up images and memories of the fight between Mike Tyson and Buster Douglas in February of 1990. O’l racist Romney essentially met Obama in his own corner and placed him on the canvas with almost every swinging question. This is what happens when a state of complacency settles in. I hope it was indeed a teachable moment!

If it was in fact a feint head-fake by Obama, it didn’t work and Romney caught him with a plethora of countered upper-cuts.

Oblio said...

Yep, Barry got his ass handed to him by Mittens, but only if you base it on style over substance. Mitt was well-rehearsed on repeating the same talking points at almost every juncture, whereas Barry tried to actually, you know, speak about facts. I would agree that if he didn't think so before, Barry now knows what he'll have to do to make things better the next time.

chaunceydevega said...

@Shady. I don't know. Something is up.

@BS. I hope Obama wasn't out drinking and cavorting like Tyson was, and then drugged by Don King. Speaking of which where is mr. only in America?

@Oblio. Styles make fights. Obama's style and punches were way way off.

nomad said...

Wrong metaphor. Not boxing. Rasslin. Kayfabe. Got to get the people behind him for the upcoming matches.

Oblio said...

@chauncey... of course, you are correct, sir. I saw a hilarious cartoon this morning showing Barry on stage last night with a thought balloon saying 'Damn, forgot to get Michelle a gift!' Funny stuff, that, but he was far too tepid for my taste last night.

Black Sage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Black Sage said...

@CD, you’re correct, where is “Mr. Only in America?” Don King could’ve easily been supplanted as one of the characters in the recent Avengers movie with an Afro made of steel!

LeoAfricanus said...

On the contrary, Professor De Vega, I think a sports analogy is entirely appropriate, but it isn't the rope-a-dope: in team sports it's called point shaving; in boxing it's called taking a dive. This is of course an extremely bitter pill for the president's supporters (including me) to swallow, but having closely observed the president's hapless "bipartisanship" in the two years preceding the 2010 mid-term election debacle, I've seen it all before (and so has, for example, Shirley Sherrod).
After the mid-terms I suggested to a friend -- a highly-regarded scholar of political science who didn't want to hear it, but who also couldn't locate an effective counterargument -- that President Obama's first two years were the most effective voter suppression effort I've ever seen. And I was a child in the South during the Civil Rights Movement, and witnessed the Klan coming into my community and discharging firearms into the air in the middle of the night.

SabrinaBee said...

He could have at least told the man he was lying one or two times. Why won't he fight?

SabrinaBee said...

Leo,that is exactly what it appeared to be. President Obama taking a dive.

nomad said...

Not a dive. Ever watch Jerry Lawler back in the day? He'd get the bloody crap beat out of him in the first round. But that just made his fans route for him more. Then he'd pull a draw in the second round and a miraculous comefrombehind win in the third. Kayfabe.

chaunceydevega said...

@Nomad. Minor pro wrestling smart mark point, that is an example good story telling, being sympathetic, and selling for the crowd. Kayfabe is a more general term for maintaining the pretense that wrestling is real and keeping the secrets within the family so that the marks don't know what is going on. Friendly correction.

Question: will Kamala come out of the back of the audience during the next debate?

5 No Points if you get the reference.

nomad said...

"Kayfabe is a more general term for maintaining the pretense that wrestling is real"

Point taken. But to do that, you have to be convincing. You have to put on a convincing act. The getbeatup and miraculous comeback would appear to be standard kayfabe formula. The kayfabe metaphor works better than the boxing metaphor because of the phoniness of the contest that is our presidential election and debate. A kayfabe election for a kayfabe democracy: 'maintaining the pretense that it's is real.'

nomad said...

I'm an occasional fan of wrestling. In the hometown of the king I got to see all the future stars before they hit the big time. They all had to come to Memphis first and beat up Lawler. LOL! But, no, I don't get the Kimala reference. So is it "Ka-mala" now?

chaunceydevega said...

@nomad. Kamala, the "Ugandan Giant" came out of the "jungle" that was Jerry Lawler's backyard in his first skits for Memphis Pro Wrestling.

nomad said...

I don't think Kamala will come out of the audience, but I do think Obama will pull down the shoulder strap of his wrestling tights, jump on top of Romney, hold his fist in the air to the cheers of the audience, and pound Romney 15 times with it before smashing him with a flying elbow off the top rope.

StewartIII said...

NewsBusters| Daily Kos Week in Review: Boxing Day

LeoAfricanus said...

Bottom line on Kamala and his "profession": whether he comes out of the audience, uses the flying elbow smash, etc., he's following a script. And he didn't write it. There's yet another point to be made about the character/caricature of Kamala; but I'll assume that it goes without saying....

nomad said...

Has anyone written about black stereotypes in pro wrestling? There's a ton of material to draw upon.