Monday, April 23, 2012

‘Blue’ versus ‘Red’ way too simplistic

The concept of the “blue” and the “red” as Election Night map colors has become so ubiquitous that it might as well be considered a cliché.

“Blue,” of course being used to color in the states that swing toward Democratic Party candidates, while “red” winds up being the color of choice for those states that prefer the Republican Party.

OF COURSE, YOU’LL invariably get some political pundit who will try to make a deep point about how we’re not really ‘red” or “blue,” but really purple. Many states have pockets of voters who cancel each other out. There really is a mixture.

Although I’d argue that we really have hard-core factions who view elections as a chance to one-up each other and gain control for four-year periods of time.

The only real “purple” that exists is that by the time the “red” and the “blue” get through beating each other up, we all feel like we’re bruised and battered.

I couldn’t help but have this thought come to mind when I saw a recent cover of The Economist – the news magazine of choice for people who think that Time is becoming so ridiculously trivial because their latest issue teased on its cover a story about the “fight over cheerleading.” (although a part of me must confess to preferring the idea of a short-skirted cheerleader photo on the cover rather than the shot they gave us of the backs of presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

THE ECONOMIST COVER featured a completely serious story that anticipates the hostile political tactics that both Obama and Mitt Romney are likely to use against each other during the cycle leading up to the Nov. 6 general election.

The cartoon art used for the cover even gave us a baseball theme – with “pitcher” Romney preparing  something for “batter” Obama (who’s in such a deep crouch at home plate that you’d think he was doing a “Pete Rose” impersonation).

Romney, of course, is wearing a “red” uniform, while Obama is in blue – right down to his batting helmet with the “Obama for America” logo on its front.
NETSCH: Ill. version of Mitt Romney?

Of course, the gimmick to the cartoon is that Romney is preparing to pitch a hand grenade. While Obama’s bat has all kinds of nails and blades drilled into the meaty part. This Obama is brandishing a very deadly weapon that would get him arrested if he (or anyone) were to try to take such a club out in public.

STILL, IT’S THE “red” versus the “blue” facing off against each other – just as they have since the 2000 election cycle when Bush in red managed to beat former Vice President Al Gore in blue (with help from the men in black – the Supreme Court, not the umpires).

That Election Night – and the month-long process afterward in which officials tried to challenge the Electoral College results to get them to match up with the popular vote – burned those colors in our brains.

Which is why it amuses me that it was once thought that the Republican candidates were “blue,” with Democrats in “red.”

Because originally, blue was the color usually used for the incumbent running in an election. And we did go through a streak from Richard M. Nixon through Bush’s father (George H.W.) that we had a lot of Republican presidents.

I KNOW THERE are some GOP-leaning people who are so intense that they will argue that Democrats “stole” their Election Night color in 2000! Of course, there are those Dems who will argue that Republicans “stole” that election.

But that is a topic for another day’s commentary. I’d rather we look forward , than back.

Insofar as The Economist, their story is rather straightforward – Obama has an advantage because Romney has had to blow all of his campaign money just to win a primary cycle in which many of the GOP backers would have wanted Anybody But Mitt.

The president, by comparison, has raised a lot of money that has been sitting in the bank, and is now available for Obama to hit at Mitt early and often (just like the GOPers will claim that Democrats in Chicago cast ballots).

COULD THAT PUT Romney out of the running before he can get started with a round up campaign cash that he has yet to raise?

We in Illinois know it’s possible. Just remember the 1994 election cycle in this state, when Dawn Clark Netsch struggled to win the Democratic nomination for governor, then got hit with a barrage of campaign ads by Gov. Jim Edgar (the one with the big bucks that year) early on.

By the time Netsch raised money to start seriously campaigning, it was effectively over. Edgar created a Netsch image that was so lousy she could never shake it off.

Is that Mitt’s fate? It seems all too possible. He could be the latest candidate to rack up not quite enough “red” on the Election Night map come November – even though the national economic struggles of recent years ought to be the millstone around Obama.

SPEAKING OF LOSING, I must confess to not liking The Economist cover for one other reason – that “blue” batting helmet along with the blue, pinstriped uniform looked at first glance so much like a Chicago Cubs uniform.

Aside from the fact that we all know Obama roots for the Chicago White Sox (no word on whether the president made a congratulatory telephone call to pitcher Phil Humber for the “perfect” game he pitched Saturday), seeing Obama look so Cub-like made me wonder if someone, subconsciously, is trying to taint him with the image of a loser?


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