George Allen’s peculiar behavior — publicly going after the guy following him around from the Webb campaign, as if he doesn’t have guys following Webb around, and evidently using a slur when he does it — may end up illustrating a point I make in my book, Can She Be Stopped?:
Politicians and political writers are fond of sports analogies, and when they’re looking for one, they usually go straight to football or baseball. Neither is the proper metaphor for what happens in elections. The sport providing the closest analogy is golf. Golf is a game played over a series of days in which a contender must not only compete with others but must also overcome his own natural human tendency to fail–to lose focus, get lazy, ease up, worry himself to death, get cocky and overconfident, or become self-destructive. Usually the golfer who wins a tournament is the one who makes the fewest unforced errors, the one who gets in his own way the least.
And so it is with politics. Elections in America–and in this case I refer only to contested elections, those increasingly rare events where nobody quite knows on Election Day which of the two leading candidates is going to prevail–are almost never won. Indeed, the real trick to winning an election in America isn’t to win it. The trick is not to lose it.
Man, talk about an unforced error.