Tuesday, December 8

I'm Sorry; Did You Say Stupidity Was Our New National Pastime? Or Cupidity?

SO, Sunday I'm watchin' football, and Your Indianapolis Colts handle the Titans of Tennessee, a club which, once it can figure out how to make Talking an official stat will be a perennial Super Bowl favorite. And in case you were busy meditating, or going out for latte, or washing arugula these past few weeks, Tennessee has been on a tear. It started the season by losing its first six, then won its next five, after turning the quarterbacking duties back over to Vince Young. Young's "resurgence" has been the talk (and talk and talk) of the sportscasting world. He is also that favorite of the professional jock-sniffer, a running quarterback, which means he's big, he's fast, and he makes poor downfield decisions.

Had Rush Limbaugh opined that sports writers liked Donovan McNabb because he was a threat to run he'd have been something other than a fat racist know-nothing, not that he is all that fat.

Anyway, the Titans go 5-0, beating two decent teams at home, plus three dogs, and Young spends several weeks as the toast of the sports yammerers. And the Titans come into Indy primed for an upset, and get handled.

This isn't about Vince Young. I like Vince Young. We get to see him twice a year, and he's dangerous. But it's pocket passers who get to hoist the Lombardi Trophy; running quarterbacks get to cheer on the sidelines, in street clothes and on crutches. This is known. From the Slough of Despond the Titans elevate Young and retool their offense around him, and they win some games. This doesn't change the equation. But suddenly people are talking as if it does. People who should know better.

The Colts go up 7-0, then 14-3, and they're never really headed. Playing from behind the Titans go for it on fourth down on successive drives and get stopped, once at the 2, next time at the 14.

Now the game's over, and we get the CBS studio bunch, and James "Not That One" Brown actually introduces the Colts recap by alluding to the fact that the Colts get precious little respect even at 12-0, and 21-0 over two seasons, which is a meaningless stat they're stuck with because they trotted it out two years ago to try to make the Patriots look even more super awesome. And he tosses to Boomer Esiason, who says that "Vince Young and the Titans" lost "because they made too many mistakes in the Red Zone". Not because Colts defense stopped them. Because Vince made mistakes. Never mind that the Colts controlled the game from the opening drive. Vince Young had won five games in a row! Never mind that Tennessee got within ten with a garbage-time TD, after the Colts--probably the most lethal offense in NFL history in terms of scoring from however many yards out you leave them in whatever time remains--tried (and succeeded) to kill the clock in the fourth quarter. If Vince Young had just been able to score those two touchdowns, Tennessee would have won!

This is not the griping of a homer, although I thought it was disgraceful that a defense which stops eleven straight plays inside the 20 gets treated as though it were handed a dozen gifts. I listened to that thinking this is about a fucking game! Its pundits can say anything they want, short of "he won because Africans can jump higher; it's a scientific fact". And still the frame was more attractive to Esiason than either a) the accomplishments of a 12-0 team he'd just heard characterized as disrespected; and b) what actually fucking happened.

How much worse in politics, I ask ya, when the people doing the reporting have real and ulterior motives to flat-out lie about stuff? I think what really got me about Boomer's story was we're going through the umpteenth consecutive Mitch Daniels Holds The Line On Taxes By Wielding His Budgetary Hatchet cycle, this time axing $150 million from higher education, and no one asks what he's saving that $1 billion rainy-day slush fund of his for if we're in the fourteenth straight month of torrential downpours. Or why he seems to imagine it belongs to him, when that OMB he successfully flushed down the crapper kept insisting the Clinton surplus was the people's money illegally hijacked. For that matter, nobody bothers to ask him why, despite his Enormous Brain, tax revenues have come in below expectations for almost a year and a half.

The man is given camera time to say he's "protecting Hoosier taxpayers", that "nearly every other state is raising taxes". Yes, and in five years maybe they won't be covered in algae. But no one even raises the point. The state is now being run in the interests of Mitch Daniels' talking points being kept in place long enough for him to get out from under, and imagine he can become President.

Maybe it's time to adjust the expectations. Maybe the ax should fall somewhere a little closer to your own office. Maybe it's time to start Vince Young.

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