Mainly, that Romney and the Browns both make it really hard on their opponents to take them seriously, which tends to show when they face off with these opponents.
Of course, no one can blame Browns fan for straining to believe in something. But in all the excitement over some close losses (!) in an 0-4 start (!!!) and a ten-game-and-counting losing streak (!!!!!) in which the Browns also hold the current longest streak in the league of not having a lead against any of your opponents for even one millisecond (!!!!!!!!!), Browns fan’s willingness to ignore the realities of relative motivation will only lead to more unnecessary pain in the future when these realities become more apparent (like they did against the Bills two weeks ago). So it’s especially helpful that we have a real world non-sports example of how this works from Wednesday’s debate between Presidential candidates.
Much like the Baltimore Ravens against the Browns on Thursday Night Football last week, President Obama came into Wednesday’s nationally televised match-up listless and uninterested, looking like he hardly wanted to be there at all. And of course, in both cases, nothing could be more natural. With the endless grind of so many real problems out there, like the Patriots, the Steelers, having a country to run and all that, and in a world where even the very best are working with limited reserves of energy, what kind of leader (AFC North or otherwise) would take a night of puppet theater with the likes of the Mitt Romneys and Pat Shurmurs of the world as anything but some combination of a profound annoyance and a good chance to take a breather? Of course, while Romney is an especially egregious excuse for a Presidential candidate, “[the] ‘Well, I am the president’ tendency goes a long way to explaining why incumbents — George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter[, etc.] — tend to be regarded as losers in the first general election debate.”
“Well, I am the president.”
“Well, we are the Ravens. And you are the Cleveland Browns.”
It happens in the race to be Leader of the Free World, and it sure as shit happens in the National Football League.
Anyway, while circumstances require that commentary on the rest of Wednesday’s proceedings be left to folks who get paid for it, there is one especially horrifying sports-related thing Romney said that should be mentionioned here. That’s when he directly addressed the debate’s moderator, Jim Lehrer of PBS, to tell Lehrer that he planned to do away with his employer, and, apparently, publicly subsidized television and journalism altogether:
“I’m sorry, Jim, I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS, I love Big Bird, I actually like you, too. But I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for.”
“Mitt Romney actually threatened to fire a guy onstage who is paid by an entity that uses .00014% of the federal budget. This is Mitt Romney’s solution to help reduce the national debt. Shit on Big Bird.”
Which is just insanely regressive. The fact that advertising works best on stupid people is a big reason why print media is dying in a way that radio and television are not, with unprecedented access to media platforms enabled by new technology having set off an ugly race to the bottom for the advertising money that’s available. Anyone who’s taken as much as three random 30-second samples of Cleveland sports talk radio over the last five years wouldn’t question this for a millisecond. There’s also what passes for content at Cleveland.com and the Plain Dealer, of course, and this excellent piece by Joe Eskenazi in the most recent SF Weekly on the rise of internet sports talk wasteland, The Bleacher Report (some highlights at Deadspin here), shows that the problem is getting worse and fast.
Even if PBS, the BBC and NPR didn’t stand out so much as a few of the only watchable/listenable outlets around anymore, one obvious solution to this problem would still be MORE subsidized media and not less. Naturally, Romney wants to go aggressively in the opposite direction, and Big Bird jokes shouldn’t distract from how horrifying this really is.
Alright, happy Friday everyone. We’ll be back on Sunday with the Shurmurball open thread, and the rest of the weekend’s action will be in the Cheddar Bay thread as always.