The Political Football: Cynical Collapses and Redemptive Comebacks

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Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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  1. Avatar gregiank
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    It was all to common during the HCR debate for disgruntled liberals to want Obama and the Dems to rain punishment down on Lieberman for various truly irritating and obnoxious moves. What they seemed to forget is that they would want and need Lieberman’s support and energy on other issues like this.

    We can only hope Farve is gone.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to gregiank
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      says:

      I think the conversation went something like this:

      Rahm: Lieberman $*@&ing endorsed McCain, for $*@&’s sake. He’s a $*@&ing traitor! He deserves to $*@&ing die!

      Obama: Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.Report

  2. Avatar North
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    says:

    I’ll admit, I was favorably inclined towards those who wanted Lieberman out in the cold for being such a loose cannon. A little party discipline for the famously discipline less party might do some good yadda yadda. Happily I wasn’t a passionate anti-Lieberman fulminator.

    But there’s no doubt that Obama and the party leadership made the right call by keeping Lieberman in the tent pissing out rather than outside the tent pissing in. I’m not sure about his re-election chances but I know for sure that I’ll personally be grateful to him and Pelosi for this as long as I live.

    And who knows? It’s a big win that’d be most appreciated by the lefter portions of the party that out primaried him before. Maybe Joe can win the primary for himself next election. If he does he’d be a shoe in for re-election and maybe the Dems would be fortunate to have him.Report

    • Avatar Katherine in reply to North
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      says:

      On a fair many issues, all the Dems managed to do was keep Lieberman inside the tent pissing in it. I don’t know if this one issue where he’s been any use outweighs the damage he’s done to much more major initiatives like health care reform and ending the Bush abuses of power.Report

  3. Avatar Rufus F.
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    says:

    Okay, I’m reeeeaaaaallly in the dark about football, but isn’t there a difference between Joe Lieberman and Michael Vick in that Joe Lieberman was hated for some political stances he’s taken and is now forgiven because of other political stances he’s taken, while Michael Vick was hated for something totally unrelated to football and is now forgiven for being really good at playing football? Am I wrong? Were there people who hated him for how he used to play football, while being happy with him killing dogs?Report

  4. Avatar Michael Drew
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    says:

    There is a difference between ostensible disloyalty to an organization (and a very legitimate question whether in this case the organization actually had the desire that loyalty be paid, as opposed to simply the desire to dictate both when a long-serving team member’s career with the organization would come to and end and what opportunities that member would then pursue apart from the organization), and being a bad teammate. When you listen to Brett Favre’s teammates past and present, you hear players who almost without exception view their time playing with him as a positive experience. As to the man’s personal failings, are we really now embracing the idea that in the case of athletes and celebrities (as opposed to political leaders, where I am indeed interested in personal character), people’s personal flaws and mistakes are relevant to the part of their lives that we take public interest in and evaluate?

    I am actually entirely on board with the idea that Michael Vick can pursue redemption in part on the football field, but at the same time, if we take that view, given what he did, is there any reason to view another player in such a harsh light by comparison whose sins are basically switching teams, struggling with the desire to keep playing after perhaps he should hang it up (and being indecisive in public about that struggle), and sending some unfaithful text messages based on a misunderstanding? Are we under the impression that NFL players are saints (well, some are Saints, but…)? And how can we compare this litany of grievous misdeeds so unfavorably to those of Michael Vick (whose nascent redemption I am, again, at this point quite invested in)?Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Michael Drew
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      says:

      There is a difference between ostensible disloyalty to an organization (and a very legitimate question whether in this case the organization actually had the desire that loyalty be paid, as opposed to simply the desire to dictate both when a long-serving team member’s career with the organization would come to and end and what opportunities that member would then pursue apart from the organization), and being a bad teammate. When you listen to Brett Favre’s teammates past and present, you hear players who almost without exception view their time playing with him as a positive experience.

      But we’re not talking about mere disloyalty to an organization vs. whether he’s a good teammate – we’re talking about whether he’s disloyal to the most important part of the equation, which is Packers fans. If the organization didn’t want him anymore and he wanted to try to play somewhere else, there’s nothing wrong with finding a new team to play for. But he went about this in a way that was uniquely disrespectful to the fans who were so loyal to him for almost two decades, engineering the token move to the Jets for a year specifically so that he could stab Packers fans in the back by donning the purple and white.

      As to the man’s personal failings, are we really now embracing the idea that in the case of athletes and celebrities (as opposed to political leaders, where I am indeed interested in personal character), people’s personal flaws and mistakes are relevant to the part of their lives that we take public interest in and evaluate?

      I did say that I was just trying to shoehorn this in, right? For my analogy to work, I need to make Favre’s fall from grace as big as possible, since McCain’s fall from grace has been monumental indeed, or at least it has been in the eyes of anyone outside of the Sunday talk show circuit. So I have to throw everything in, including the kitchen sink.

      I am actually entirely on board with the idea that Michael Vick can pursue redemption in part on the football field, but at the same time, if we take that view, given what he did, is there any reason to view another player in such a harsh light by comparison whose sins are basically switching teams, struggling with the desire to keep playing after perhaps he should hang it up (and being indecisive in public about that struggle), and sending some unfaithful text messages based on a misunderstanding?

      A few things here: First, to me, the redemptive value for Vick isn’t so much that it makes his crimes easier to forgive as it is that it means something actually good came of his time in prison such that he’s taking football seriously in a way he had not previously done. Basically, he is now what everyone hoped he would be and knew he could be 10 years ago (back when the phrase du jour was “I have seen the future, and its name is Michael Vick”), but which he refused to be. Which, I guess, is where the Lieberman comparison makes more sense – the result of Lieberman’s exile is that he’s taking his responsibilities in a uniquely serious way. Second, on Favre: I already discussed the issue of switching teams and the text messages above, but I think the whole question of his flip-flopping shouldn’t be too easily dismissed, either – that flip-flopping, especially this year, had very real effects on the ability of his team to get ready for the season. The other thing of course is that he so often seemed to put “the Streak” ahead of winning.

      And how can we compare this litany of grievous misdeeds so unfavorably to those of Michael Vick (whose nascent redemption I am, again, at this point quite invested in)?

      One thing to keep in mind, here: I’m not comparing Favre’s misdeeds to Vick’s dogfighting operation so much as I am comparing the tracks of their last several years to McCain and Lieberman, respectively. There do seem to be quite a few fans (though not many in the media) who have lost most or all of the respect they once had for Favre for the way in which he’s acted these last few years, much as there are quite a few people (though not many in the media) who have lost most or all of the respect they once had for McCain for the way in which he’s acted these last few years. Meanwhile, there are a lot of people for whom Vick’s performance this year is far from completely redemptive (not only of the dogfighting but also of his failure to reach his potential between 2000 and 2006), but who find it a legitimate thing of beauty and revelation to watch what he’s doing this year; similarly, Lieberman’s actions on DADT won’t redeem him in the eyes of most liberals/civil libertarians/Democrats for his actions between 2000 and 2008, but most such people cannot possibly help but find it a legitimate thing of beauty and revelation to watch what he has done to ensure DADT’s passage.Report

  5. Avatar Michael Drew
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    says:

    If the organization didn’t want him anymore and he wanted to try to play somewhere else, there’s nothing wrong with finding a new team to play for. But he went about this in a way that was uniquely disrespectful to the fans who were so loyal to him for almost two decades, engineering the token move to the Jets for a year specifically so that he could stab Packers fans in the back by donning the purple and white.

    I am precisely one such fan, but I have never seen why I should feel disrespected or stabbed in the back. If we wanted him not to be out there in the league trying to beat us, we should have kept him around. He had willing suitors and good relationships in Minnesota that wanted him to come to play there. I don’t see why we should begrudge him wanting to play somewhere he is (or was) wanted. I also don;t see why we should feel stabbed in the back by his wanting to beat us. This is a sporting competition – that’s the point. Should Donovan McNabb not want to beat the Eagles? Or the Redskins? Or the ________? It doesn’t make him a bad guy, it just makes him a competitor. This was the path the Packers chose; who are we to say Brett shouldn;t play for the Vikings if we wanted to get Aaron Rodgers going as a starter?

    Obviously, many of my comrades feel differently, but at the same time that sentiment it is far from the consensus one among us, though it may be a majority one. Basically, opinion on the question is mixed, though probably slanted the way you describe it. But the point is it is far from cut and dried that the fans feel as you describe, nor that they should (in my view).

    I did say that I was just trying to shoehorn this in, right? For my analogy to work, I need to make Favre’s fall from grace as big as possible

    Right, that’s all I’m saying. As long as you acknowledge you had to do some stretching on Favre as well. I certainly acknowledge the trajectories are in the opposite direction lately for Favre and Vick (But that’s just the way of things as with aging, isn’t it? The flesh weakens and not everyone adjusts with equal grace. I don’t see where it ought to completely destroy our esteem for people.), and the analogy to McCain & Lieberman is nice; I like it. I just don’t think it was totally fair to Favre as you had calibrated. But that’s me; others obviously will disagree.Report

    • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Michael Drew
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      says:

      Unfair to Favre? Moi? Perish the thought! (I have mentioned that the sole accomplishment to which my Bills will be able to point this year is ending Favre’s streak, right? So I may have an ulterior motive for inflating the importance of that event by making Favre out to be Satan himself.)Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Mark Thompson
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        says:

        I have considered suggesting before that it’s possible you were being just ever so slightly ungenerous in your comments, but in all honesty I by no means have any strong brief for the guy, and don’t want to appear as a hopeless, enthusiastic defender of his (whatever my actually feelings, which I hope I am making clear are conflicted – how could they not be after what he’s put me through?), so I chose to remain mum. I happily recognize your right to your opnion of the guy. 😉Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew
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      says:

      Another way to put this, I guess, would just be as an appeal to keep in mind where we would rank these figures in terms of our overall esteem for them as public figures based on character, success in their profession, effect on society, seriousness of bad actions, etc, at this point. And for me, though things are changing fast, from lowest to highest esteem at this point these four would still rank like this (again, least to most esteem): 1. McCain (and falling fast); 2. Lieberman (and rising fast); 3. Vick (and rising moderately quickly); 4. Favre (and falling steadily, albeit with an expected acceleration in that deterioration pending the announcement of the results of the NFL’s investigation into his conduct with the Jets).Report

  6. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    The thing about Vick is that he was never that good a quarterback. Spectacular, sure, but not noticeably effective. His best quarterback rating for a full season bad been 81.6 (the only time he’d broken 80); so far this year it’s 103.6. It makes no sense that he could lose two years of playing football and in the process improve from mediocre to great. The only logical conclusion is that, while in prison, he sold his soul to the devil.Report

  7. Avatar Lyle
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    says:

    What assumes Lieberman will run as a Democrat. He might just go the independent route again. He did it the last time he lost the primary. So why bother with the party if its just a drag. With the Alaskan result the value of party on the state level has been reduced a bit, and if you have the name recognition you can win without it.Report

    • Avatar Bo in reply to Lyle
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      says:

      You underestimate how unpopular Lieberman has made himself in Connecticut over the last 4 years. His approval rating is 25%, and he gets completely creamed in head-to-head polling against both Democrats and Republicans. It’s not that parties aren’t important enough to stop him; it’s that parties aren’t important enough to elect him any more.Report

  8. Avatar Bo
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    says:

    As a Nutmegger, allow me to point out that Lieberman is a Senator from Connecticut not from Mississippi. Had Lieberman lost in 2006, we would have a senator every bit as good on DADT and miles better on a host of other consequential issues. The same will be undoubtedly be true when 2012 rolls around.Report

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