Heroes & Goats

Part of the reason that people enjoy watching sporting events is because the outcome is clear cut. One team wins, another loses. Outcomes aren’t usually so black and white in any other area of life. That being said, my problem with sporting events is that far too often team defeats are laid at the feet of a single individual.

For instance, in 1991, with the score 20-19 in favor of the New York Giants, Buffalo Bills kicker Scott Norwood missed a game-ending 47-yard field goal in Super Bowl XXV. Buffalo fans haven’t forgiven him to this day. God only knows when Baltimore Ravens fans will forgive Billy Cundiff for missing a 32-yard attempt in the recent AFC playoff or San Francisco fans will cut Kyle Williams some slack for fumbling the ball during the NFC playoffs in the 49er loss to those same Giants. [Related: “7-year-old 49er fan commiserates with receiver”]

For most Americans, December 7, 1941 and September 11, 2001 are dates that will live on in infamy. But for Chicago Cubs fans, a third date is October 14, 2003. That was the day when, with the Cubs leading the Florida Marlins 3-0, just five outs away from advancing to the World Series for the first time in 58 years, Steve Bartman, a fan in the stands inadvertently got between outfielder Moises Alou and a foul ball. By the time the smoke cleared, the Marlins scored eight runs in the eighth inning and 26-year-old Bartman was a marked man.

Back in 1951, Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca gave up the three-run homer to Bobby Thomson of the NY Giants, costing the Dodgers their shot at the World Series. It later turned out that the Giants had a spy tucked away in the scoreboard with a pair of binoculars who signaled the manager Leo Durocher, who in turn signaled Thomson what pitch to expect. Of course Thomson still had to hit “the shot heard ‘round the world,” as it came to be known. But Brooklyn fans didn’t know about Durocher’s shenanigans at the time, and it probably wouldn’t have mattered if they did. Sports fans don’t want excuses, except, of course, when it comes to their own fumbles, errors and mistakes.

In the same way that certain moments can taint a career, others can be magnified all out of proportion in the other direction. I am thinking of the moment during the South Carolina debate when Newt Gingrich used John King’s question about his first marriage to paint himself as the moral avenger. Because snippets of Marianne Gingrich’s ABC interview had been all over radio and television that day, everyone knew the question was coming. To his credit, Mr. King asked it first in order to get it out of the way, but it was the manner in which Gingrich employed verbal jujitsu to make himself out to be the victim of an unjustified attack that reversed the entire momentum of the campaign.

But I contend that Newt’s response had less to do with the reversal than the standing ovation it received from the folks in the auditorium. It was the thunderous applause that touched off the Pavlovian reaction in the voters at home. After all, what did his predictable slap down of the moderator, something he’d been doing regularly since the first debate, have to do with his electability or his qualifications to be president?

That is why my favorite debate was the one moderated by NBC’s Brian Williams. Before the first question was asked, Mr. Williams told the audience to hold their applause, thus providing the four contenders with more time in which to respond. As a result, it’s my opinion that all four men, including Rep. Paul, had the opportunity to make their strongest case yet to the electorate.

Recently, my friend Bernie Goldberg reported on a 2008 Pew Poll that indicated that it isn’t just conservatives who recognize that the elite media is filled with left-wingers. In the post-election poll, 62% of Democrats acknowledged that the media had been in the tank for candidate Obama. Of course every conservative is well aware of media bias, but I had assumed that most Democrats regarded themselves and their lap dogs in the fourth estate as middle of the road moderates and regarded the rest of us as being way out on the right shoulder of the road, along with the weeds and road kill.

Speaking of Obama, a friend send me a definition of “ineptocracy,” a made-up word that is deftly defined as “a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society the least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.” It would be a challenge to do a neater job of summing up the Obama administration in 50 words or less.

Finally, lest anyone conclude that just because he isn’t my first or second choice, I would not vote for Newt Gingrich if he were to garner the GOP nomination, let me assure one and all that I will vote for any Republican running against Obama, and that includes Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley.

Granted, there are a number of things that I don’t like about Mr. Gingrich, but the main one is that I think he would have a tougher time defeating Obama than either Romney or Santorum. I also think that all the talk about the way Newt would manhandle the ex-community organizer in a debate is a whole lot of hooey. In the aftermath of those events, Democrats inevitably think their guy wins, Republicans think our guy wins, and independents, whose votes unfortunately determine the election, are busy watching “The Kardashians” or alphabetizing their canned goods.

For my part, I think Gingrich’s strengths would be wasted in the White House. Being quick-thinking and verbally adroit can certainly come in handy, but they happen to be skills I possess and I know only too well that I shouldn’t be allowed to come within a mile of the Oval Office.

With his short fuse and excess baggage, Newt Gingrich really isn’t cut out to be the president of the United States.

Instead, if he came to me for vocational guidance, I’d tell him to host a radio talk show or go be a judge on American Idol.

©2012 Burt Prelutsky. Comments? Write BurtPrelutsky@aol.com!

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Author Bio:

Burt Prelutsky, a very nice person once you get to know him, has been a humor columnist for the L.A. Times and a movie critic for Los Angeles magazine. As a freelancer, he has written for the New York Times, Washington Times, TV Guide, Modern Maturity, Emmy, Holiday, American Film, and Sports Illustrated. For television, he has written for Dragnet, McMillan & Wife, MASH, Mary Tyler Moore, Rhoda, Bob Newhart, Family Ties, Dr. Quinn and Diagnosis Murder. In addition, he has written a batch of terrific TV movies. View Burt’s IMDB profile. Talk about being well-rounded, he plays tennis and poker... and rarely cheats at either. He lives in the San Fernando Valley, where he takes his marching orders from a wife named Yvonne and a dog named Angel.
Author website: http://www.burtprelutsky.com/
  • Bruce A.

    My vote come this Nov is for the one with the best chance of beating Obama.

  • Burt Prelutsky

    Drew Page: I understand that you like Newt, but I am here to write my opinions. It is my sincere opinion that Gingrich may be a first-rate debater, but he is a third-rate human being. And when it comes to being the president, I want those ratings reversed.

    Shirl: I agree that the most important thing is to remove Obama from the Oval Office. What I don’t understand is why anybody prefers Newt to Mitt. Debating skills won’t count for anything in the election. The way it works, as I have written in the past, is that Republicans always think their guy won, Democrats are convinced their guy won, and the independents who break the deadlock are too busy playing Bingo to watch the debates. Only an egotist like Newt could believe that debating skills would trump all considerations of past history and character. Maybe they would, but only if he were running as a Democrat.

    Regards, Burt

  • Shirl

    Hey! After watching the Super Bowl, I think someone should nominate Clint Eastwood; he would make everyone’s day!!!!!

  • Drew Page

    Regardless of who wins the Republican nomination, I am certain that Obama would not lower himself to debate that person. Some will call this cowardly, others will say it’s smart politics. Instead debating the Republican candidate, Obama will point to his “accomplishments” and leave the mudslinging to his super-pac.

    I prefer Gingrich over Romney, but I won’t throw rocks at Mitt and will vote for him if he wins the nomination. If you don’t like Newt, don’t vote for him. Why try to convince your readers that he would be a bad choice?

  • Shirl

    Just gotta say, I’m for Newt but will vote for Romney if push comes to shove but wouldn’t you think that with all his training by running for pres. the last few years, Romney wouldn’t be making so many gaffes right out of the gate? Flipping off the poor and making $10,000 bets (among others) on the world stage does not exactly make a conservative or independent want to race out to pull the lever. I truly believe he is incapable of connecting; he hasn’t so far and that worries me about the stand-off looming.

    • Shirl

      PS: POTUS has more baggage than all republican candidates put together!!!!!!!

      • Jeannette

        It seems to me that we’re all in this together and want what’s best for our country. That will start with getting “that one” out of office ASAP. VOTE, everybody!

  • Jeannette

    Burt: What’s-his-name (O) can’t prove he isn’t an anti-Semite. What is it about proving a negative?

    He has made it abundantly clear that he is as anti-semitic as it’s possible to be. If he could, and still save face here in the U.S., he would go to Iran and schmooze with the ayatolla and its crazed president and plot the next cluster-bombing of Israel’s schools, playgrounds, hospitals and places of worship of any and all description. I’m not cynical or anything: I just have my eyes open to “that one.”

  • Burt Prelutsky

    Independent in Vegas: Both Romney and Gingrich spoke about Obama’s attack on Catholics last night after the caucus vote.

    T I: I didn’t realize that canned goods had expiration dates. I thought that was the advantage of goods being canned.

    Larry: I doubt if my fellow Jews will ever wake up to the fact that they should be Republicans. But they are easily fooled. As you say, FDR was no friend of the Jews any more than Obama is; that didn’t stop them from making use of Jewish advisors and supporters. That’s why I see red when people point out that Obama has put such Jews as David Axelrod, Elena Kagan and Rahm Emanuel, in high places, as if that proves he isn’t an anti-Semite.


    • Ken Hansen

      RE: ‘Jews in high places’ defense – using the same logic, that means Bush ’43 wasn’t a racist because of all the various minorities he put in high-places…

      Oddly, Democrats rarely point that out…

  • Clarence De Barrows

    Burt: Juxtaposing sports with the political situation in our Country today sure puts me in mind of ancient Rome.

  • IndependentLasVegas

    There are 37 million Catholics in the USA. The Obama regime is going to force all Catholic Hospitals to perfom abortions under Obamacare.. You would think one of these candidates for the GOP would make this an issue…

  • Larry Wallace

    Burt, when are the Jews in this country going to realize that the Republican party is the only party that has their best interest at heart? Israel is a miniscule sliver sandwiched between Israel-hating countries with Israels extinction the only thing on their minds. And yet the Jews in this country practically think of and treat Obama like the Messiah. Thank the Lord God Jehovah for you and Bernard!! As a true Bible believing Christian we look forward to the day when the “scales” fall from the eyes of fellow American Jews and they see the democrat party for what it is. FDR, the holy father of liberal democrats, hated and despised Jews–research it! Wake up!!

  • T Ivison

    Burt, as an independent, I feel obligated to correct you. We do not alphabetized our can goods. We arrange them by expiration date!

    • Will Swoboda

      Hey T,
      Good come back. I thought more along the lines of color. You know, brightest to dullest. I like expiration dates though.

  • Dave O’Connor

    Frankly, I see the media as secular catechists; parallels the idea that most in the Vatican and ACCEPT the Catechism though by the Church’s own concession has been time to time “FALLIBLE”.
    Citing Bernie’s use of “it isn’t just conservatives who recognize that the elite media is filled with left-wingers.” “62% of Democrats…media…in the tank for Obama”
    But, American lemmings don’t question the “Infallibilty of the Media.”

  • Jeannette

    Burt: If the newt were the only one standing after the convention, come election time I would vote early and often (if I were in Chicago) for him. However, I would need a clothespin to do it.

    I hate to see a grown man whine.

    After the Nevada duel (street fight?) it was fun to hear all 15 people cheering for the newt as he made his “fight on” speech. I wondered how much he’d had to pay them.

    My comment was, after I’d watched all I could of it, was, “Well, at least he can eat.” Good job!

  • Burt Prelutsky

    The mistake some of you are making is thinking about the general election being like the 2008 election. That one pitted two non-incumbents, and even then McCain was leading in the polls until the economy tanked in September. This time, Obama will have to defend his record. He has no accomplishments, which is why he devoted his latest State of the Union speech to talking about what he planned to do, not what he has done.

    Newt Gingrich is the one guy who might not be able to defeat Obama because the very things that some conservatives like about him–his rudeness to the debate moderators, his ego, his seething anger–are the very things that would turn away moderates and independents. He could no more defend his personal shortcomings–deserting one wife with cancer and two kids, deserting another who had just been diagnosed with MS–and his ethics violations and his career as a K Street lobbyist against Obama than he has against Romney.


    • Michael

      Burt, you keep talking that way and you will never get a moon colony condo for that “out of this world” vacation. :)

  • Nancye

    Michael said:

    About Romney and Santorum

    They both are so uptight that I feel for them every time I see or hear them trying to sound like “everyman,” and I just don’t think they know how to limber up for a fight. They seem more concerned about offending someone than landing a knockout punch. Why haven’t they shown the guts or ability to tell it like it is so far?


    Amen. I couldn’t agree more!!!

    • Nancye

      GO NEWT !!!

  • Vin Bickler

    Newt is capable of leading our great nation. Actually, a Romney-Gingrich ticket is a landslide winner. Or, a Romney-Santorum ticket will be fine,too.
    Everyone knows that BO stinks; clean, fresh air is coming in November…..

  • Michael

    You may be right, Burt, but my fear is that when either Romney or Santorum face Obama, it’s going to be like a street scene in which an earnest young white suburbanite tries to reason with the ethnic urban gang leader who knows how to whip the crowd of local onlookers into a frenzy and have them all calling for the gang leader to “whip his white ass.”

    I hate that it’s that way because I think Romney and Santorum are both good men. They both are so uptight that I feel for them every time I see or hear them trying to sound like “everyman,” and I just don’t think they know how to limber up for a fight. They seem more concerned about offending someone than landing a knockout punch. Why haven’t they shown the guts or ability to tell it like it is so far? Gingrich is the only one to take the entitlement programs head on. He isn’t afraid of the media. He isn’t afraid of the NAACP, and he isn’t afraid to speak the truth that fires up voters.

    If Newt hangs in there until Super Tuesday, I have a feeling we will see Newt surge again.

    The Republican primary is clean living compared to the general election. Newt’s personal baggage won’t be as awkward a burden with the nation that elected Bill Clinton twice, but his willingness and ability to throw hard punches will appeal to many voters. Patton supposedly said that America loves a winner. They also love a fighter.

    • Joseph Maloney

      Uptight! The majority of the american people are uptight seeing a country changing before their eyes, and unable to do anything about it! Czars, continuing resolutions and a 6 trillion dollar increase to the national debt in 3 years! Uptight! You bet we are!

      • Michael

        I don’t believe I said anything at all about “the american (sic) people” being uptight.