The debate Wednesday could be compared to many things—a slow dance in which the partners are holding potato peelers to each other's throats, perhaps, or a restaurant in which you, the diner, get to watch a prep cook slow-spit on your burger before it's served—but of course everyone immediately turned to sports metaphors. After I calmed down enough to stop slinging 12-letter epithets at the TV, I told my assembled watch party that Barack Obama was like a football team ahead late and timidly calling two-yard runs up the middle while his opponent was still slinging passes downfield. A buddy said that strategy makes sense for Obama, because he is ahead, while Mitt Romney gets to keep chucking up three-pointers. Someone then complained that Americans use too many baseball metaphors.
Clearly nobody was communicating much of anything. But how else to explain how we got to the fourth quarter of this horse race with the bases loaded and a president trying to score a knockout with free throws? Everyone thought of sports Wednesday because everyone can remember a match in which one side, ahead late, tried to coast to the end while the other kept attacking. Only problem was, no one could agree, exactly, on which sport we were watching.
Boxing (Charles Pierce, for Esquire):
The thing is, if you're going to play rope-a-dope, sooner or later, you have to come off the ropes and throw a punch. You bounce off the ropes and land the left and then the right over the top, and then the other guy goes out of the ring in a blanket. Otherwise, it's just a way to get yourself punched in the stomach a lot.
Poker (Jeff Greenfield, for Yahoo):
When you argue as a Democrat that you and your Republican opponent share wide areas of agreement on Social Security-especially when recipients make up a chunk of Romney's "47 percent" of indolent spongers-you have thrown in a fistful of high cards.
Football, prevent defense (abundant):
Obama played too much prevent defense tonight. That wasn't a good strategy for those who tried it in the primaries. fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/20/rom…— Nate Silver (@fivethirtyeight) October 4, 2012
Obama is playing the political version of a prevent defense.— Markos Moulitsas (@markos) October 4, 2012
Football, Jim Lehrer as replacement ref (overabundant):
Hey has anybody considered making a joke comparing Jim Lehrer to NFL replacement refs? That would be clever and not get tired fast.— Ben Fritz (@benfritz) October 4, 2012
Football—no, basketball (Matt Yglesias, for Slate):
Barack Obama's timid approach to debating — I saw a lot of analogies to a prevent defense in football, but I think it was more like the four corners basketball offense that's so deadly boring it's now against the rules — was the most striking element of tonight's debate, but the most important one is probably that Mitt Romney finally shook the etch-a-sketch tonight and moved to the center.
Team Obama loses early wicket. Send in Virat. :P— Nishath Podakkudiyar (@NishathM) October 4, 2012
If this was foosball, Obama's goalie would be exhausted—- GET YOUR FORWARDS MOVING, PLEASE!!!!— Rima D Morris (@rimadairi) October 4, 2012
Hockey or soccer or some such:
Feels like Romney's pulled the Goalie and Obama's trying to run out the clock.— Red (@red_scott) October 4, 2012
For people blaming Jim Lehrer for Obama's performance that's like saying the racket is the reason you stink at tennis.— The Fix (@TheFix) October 4, 2012
Baseball (Brad Hill, for The Huffington Post):
Obama worked the game like a slow pitcher in baseball who walks halfway to the infield and back between pitches, trying to break the batter's rhythm. In this case, it just gave Romney time to reload.
Last nights debate was like a ufc fight with romney being the huge guy that everyone knows is gonna win and obama doesnt know whats coming— Charlie Myers (@Mine_not_YERS) October 4, 2012
@samontv Obama's playing it like a pool shark. Lose a couple, opponent gets sloppy. In the end you run the table, walk away with the cash.— Balanced Dogs (@BalancedDogs) October 4, 2012
Obama expected the Romney on the campaign trail. It's like me going to a NASCAR event and instead of racing cars, they play badminton.— Xavier(@Rev_Xavier) October 4, 2012
Fuck mitt Romney and the horse he rode in on— IG: tvdadon(@Tv5otatted) October 4, 2012