Friday, November 19, 2010

Players and Spectators

Some people play the game, others just watch. I know a lot about how Derek Jeter plays shortstop from having watched him obsessively for the last 15 years, but I don’t know much about how playing it looks from his vantage point, or how he talks about it in the privacy of the locker room. I’ve always assumed that the same goes for politics.

Consider, however, this report from Glenn Rush and Manu Raju about what’s being said privately about the last election inside the Democratic senatorial caucus (my emphasis):
“Added one veteran senator: “It was the most frank exchange of views I’ve ever seen.”

“Several senators expressed the opinion that Obama needed to show more passion, while party liberals renewed their complaint that Obama should abandon the pretense of bipartisanship in the face of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s intransigence and what they consider the Kentucky Republican’s blatantly political tactics aimed at making Obama a one-term president.

“Others said Democratic leaders need to clearly spell out what they believe are the motivations behind the Republicans' positions: that they are beholden to special interests, who bankroll their campaigns.

“If Democrats keep losing the message war, they worry, they will be wiped out in 2012.

“‘There was a lot of passion in that room,’ one senator said. ‘The reason is because the public is with us on our policies, but they’re not getting the message.’”
Assuming its accuracy, I’m struck by a couple of things in this report.

First, I’ve always assumed that accomplished politicians have insight into the the practice of partisan politics that’s as unavailable to political spectators as Derek Jeter’s insight into playing ball is unavailable to baseball fans and sportswriters.  But look at the second and third paragraphs I've quoted:  aren’t those exactly the tiresome clich├ęs we’ve been hearing from liberal pundits and bloggers over the last two years?

Second, I would have thought that the players are a lot less susceptible to wishful thinking about how they’re doing than the fans. I presume that Derek Jeter knows when he isn’t getting around on the fastball and doesn’t tell himself that he is when he isn’t. Compare the senator quoted as saying that “the public is with us on our policies, but they’re not getting the message.” What more would have to happen for him to ask himself whether Democrats need a new agenda?

Can anyone on the Democratic side still play this game?


Anonymous said...

I'd really like to know what you were struck by First. (Looks like a paragraph accidentally got deleted there.)

Ron Replogle said...

Sorry, the post got chewed up in the process of publication. I've fixed it.