Politics is Sport: Just Check the Language

Knockouts. Home runs. Punches and grand slams.

Have you noticed how so much political commentary is spiced with sports terms? More than once before and after Wednesday night’s presidential debate, I heard commentators say Obama was sitting on his lead, running out the clock. I heard he let a fat pitch sail over the plate during the debate.. But most of the analogies were boxing-related. It seems extraordinarily cliched at this point.

Here’s a sample of what was said in the media and blogosphere after Wednesday night’s presidential debate:

New York Times: This debate was a lot more confrontational than the first two, with Mr. McCain repeatedly taking jabs at Mr. Obama.

Josh Marshall, Talkingpointsmemo.com: I’m not sure Obama knocked anything out of the park. But at the end of it, I don’t think McCain landed any solid punches either.

San Jose Mercury News: John McCain was hoping for a knockout punch. He didn’t get it in his final debate with Barack Obama, but he did land some solid jabs.

Ari Melber, Washington Independent: Barack Obama never delivered a knockout punch during the final presidential debate, but it did not matter. Obama won a T.K.O. – defeating his opponent without ever knocking him out.

Chris Cillizza, Washington Post: McCain did not score the knockout blow that many Republicans had hoped but he did land several solid body shots.

(London) Times Online: In the third and final presidential debate, the Republican nominee came off the ropes to charge at his rival and throw a series of punches without delivering the knock-out blow needed to change the result of a contest that – according to polls – is heading for a decisive Democratic victory.

Oddly enough, boxing is a dying sport. Maybe four years from now the analogies will be related to Mixed Martial Arts. Wouldn’t you like to see the very first tapout in a presidential debate?

It isn’t just boxing terms from the commentators, of course. We’ve heard “game-changer” about a billion times in the last few weeks when it comes to this presidential campaign. Will this be a game-changer or that be a game-changer, is there a game-changer out there?

Jaime Regalado, director of the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles: There haven’t been many game-changers in the history of presidential debates. For there to be a game-changer, somebody needs to hit a home run or commit a balk and neither candidate has done that.

I don’t care if the next president is a singles-hitter or the heavyweight champion of the world. Just get the economy and the country straightened out. Otherwise, you and I may be the ones TKO’d, muttering “We coulda been a contendah” in a daze as we wonder where everything went so bad.

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