Friday, January 06, 2006


The "Look-Away"

If you're a basketball fan like me (I'm watching my beloved Chicago Bulls right now), you know that there are few things more beautiful than a perfectly executed "look-away." The player draws his opponent's attention to another point on the floor by looking away from his intended target only to fire a blind pass to the open man. All sports have their own variation of the look-away. In football it's the "play-action pass:" it looks like a running play when in actuality it's a pass. In hockey it's the "deke:" the player handling the puck fakes one direction before moving the other way. In baseball, it's the "offspeed pitch:" a pitcher deliberately throws a slower pitch when the batter is looking for a fastball. In each instance, the motive is the same: to trick your opponent. In short, it's meant to deceive.

Today we saw the Bush administration attempt a political version of the lookaway. In an attempt to redirect the public's attention, various administration members fanned out across the nation in a childish attempt at the old "look over there" trick. Hoping that America would follow, administration officials set out to tout the economy. Bush came here to Illinois while Cheney and others went to Missouri, New York, Kentucky, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. We were told that the economy had a "full head of steam" despite the lower than expected job numbers for the month of December.

But while the administration is hoping we will all "look over there," what they're trying to do is hide what's really going on. They're trying to get us to look away from the fact that the Republican party is collapsing right before our eyes. With the scandals and the implications of said scandals mounting, the party is grasping for anything that isn't tainted with negativity. And really, who can blame them? They're in shambles right now. In just over a year, they've gone from a mandate with political capital to burn to a party under suspicion and investigation. Party leadership is caught up in ethics battles, lobbyists have flipped for the prosecution, and the one-time party faithful have turned on the others. Despite their best efforts to put a lot of lipstick on the pig that Iraq has become, the reality on the ground keeps biting them in the ass.

With only eleven months to go until the midterm elections, it's important that the Democrats keep their eye on the ball. We can't get caught up in the misdirection play the Republican party is trying to run. Every time the White House attempts the look-away, the Democrats need to be there to refocus the attention on what they are trying to hide. Lord knows we can't rely on the traditional media to do it for us.

The most important word for the Democrats in 2006 is focus. We must stay focused on the task at hand: Making gains in congress. As I said in the days after the 2004 election, we have to win this fight from below.

If you haven't already begun, today is the day to start fighting and the first step is not falling for the look-away. Let's keep our eye on the ball and win this thing. What do you say?

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