Volume 77 / Number 36 - Feb. 06 - 12, 2008
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Talking Point

A modest proposal: Presidential Super Bowl MMVIII

By Jerry Tallmer

The too-good-to-be-true confluence of Super Bowl XLII and “Super Tuesday” MMVIII has sprung a gasket in my mind. Call it an epiphany. There is light at the end of the insufferable campaign tunnel. A whole new political game plan. Signals on! And a merciful end to the Clown Car Syndrome.

You know, the little car that drives to the center of the circus ring and then six, eight, 10, 15 clowns tumble out of it? That’s what the 2008 campaign and candidates were to me — Republicans and Democrats alike — until just last week. Clowns, all of them, spatting their little spats, boasting their little self-inflating boasts. Clowns? Hollow puppets. Holograms. All except John McCain. He seemed to have some flesh-and-blood solidity and principles that he at least stood by, believed in, no matter how much I might disagree with several of them.

As for all the others — Huckabee who? et al. — they were, well, clowns; worse yet, on my side of the aisle, Hillary Rodham Clinton was a tireless bore and Barack Obama was a yapping pup.

Then came last week.

On Wednesday I got my first actual close-up look at the two main surviving Republicans, and pretty quickly saw that Mitt Romney was worse than a clown or a hologram. He was a golem, a Frankenstein’s monster — an android, Gail Collins called him in The Times — and a smug, superior one at that. What also emerged was a much less admirable side of John McCain, who all but blew his top as he gracelessly, unstoppably assaulted Romney like a bully in a schoolyard. So much for that team.

The next day, Thursday, was revelation day. Epiphany day.

Suddenly Hillary Clinton was not a bore, Barack Obama was not a yapping pup. Hey, these two people — in “outnicing” one another, as the press put it — were not only making wonderful, amiable, articulate sense but were truly quite brilliant in the process. Why surely Hillary would make a good president! Why surely Barack would make a splendid president. Jeez…wouldn’t they be a dream ticket together. Half the country had that brainstorm at just that moment. But what should the ticket be? President Clinton and Vice President Obama? Or the other way round? It was at that moment, mulling that question, that what came into my head was the Super Bowl.

A presidential term is four years. A Super Bowl is four quarters. We could toss a coin to see who goes into the White House first. Let’s say it comes up heads, for Obama. He goes into the White House as the whistle blows to start the game, and lo and behold, before that first quarter is over, he not only ends the war in Iraq but he gets all the troops home and back at work. Two touchdowns: 14 points.

The second quarter is Hillary’s. She spends virtually the entire year on getting first the Senate and then the House to O.K. national healthcare for everyone, a two-touchdown feat if ever there was one. Score at halftime: 14-14.

Barack goes back in for quarter number three, and he spends the whole year blasting through an immigration reform bill complete with drivers’ licenses for millions of undocumented residents who are working toward citizenship. A big touchdown: 7 more points. Score: 21-14.

Fourth quarter. President Clinton turns her attention to Big Oil, alternative fuels, the energy crisis. She busts the price of a barrel of oil to $50 — a last-second touchdown. Game is tied, 21-21. We go into sudden-death overtime.

Hold it! What’s this? Why it’s Vice President Barack Obama galloping in from the sideline to kick a field goal in celebration of some astonishing news. Veep Barack himself — with the help of a good friend, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France — has found none other than Osama Bin Laden hiding in a squat in one of the most desolate Paris banlieues and brought him back alive.

The whistle blows. Sixty million Super Presidency fans hold their breath. Barack boots the ball, it’s good! It’s good! Three points for Barack; final score: 24-21. The entire four years are awarded to Barack Obama, 44th president of the United States of America.

And then Bill Clinton threw a red handkerchief onto the field. …

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