Sunday, February 12, 2012

March to Madness

Each March, America descends into madness. College basketball and bracketology take center stage, and all other issues of national importance take a holiday. Nothing galvanizes the national like an unexpected celebrity break-up, a debate on women’s reproductive health, or the mathematical uncertainty of picking the perfect bracket. For 3 weeks in March, our collective political IQ suffers as a result (as does our office productivity, by the way).

The sweet science of bracketology is so engaging that it should be applied to our politics as a way to build and maintain interest in national issues. Just as non-sports fans participate in annual office pools, the apolitical non-registered voters of America could become engaged in the issues of the when presented in a bracket choice. Like college basketball, politics is all about matchups and timing. Which issue or politician can get all the calls like Duke or buy success like Kentucky or recruit like Michigan State – those are the winners. Political Bracketology will help citizens track the competitors vying for dominance in the national discussion leading up to Nov. 6th, our quadrennial National Championship Game.

So for your consideration, here is my 16 Team Bracket and complimentary game analysis. Consider these 16 stories that will compete for your attention all leading up to One Shining Moment on Election Day 2012.

Blue Bracket:

In the opening game of the tournament, Team Obama, the Number One team in the nation for the past several months, goes up against a weak first round bubble team, The National Debt. While The National Debt looks scary on paper, it is no match for Obama’s issue handling skills, and The National Debt, once thought to be on the ascendency, falls. The second game pits Team Congress against Team Saul Alinsky. Congress has been under investigation for recruiting violations for years, and its program is extremely unpopular; however, they play a physical brand of ball, and Saul Alinsky is overwhelmed. Congress dominates in the paint, and advances.

The Blue Bracket Final is a classic Obama vs. Congress match up. Congress talks a lot of pre-game smack, but Obama stays cool and patient. In the end, the crowd rallies behind Obama, and Congress loses the game because they get called for several technical fouls in the final minutes.

Blue Bracket: Team Obama

Red Bracket:

The Red Bracket features Team Supreme Court against Team Gas Prices in the opening game. The pundits believe that The Supreme Court will make a lot of noise during this tournament, and their roster is packed with seniors. Gas Prices make an early run for attention, but The Supreme Court has the last word in a rout. The second game has Team Iran playing Team Expectations. Iran has a small roster that loves to shoot early and often from the outside, but when push comes to shove, they lack a big enough weapon to help them win. Besides, it is tough to beat Expectations.

The Red Bracket Final, The Supreme Court versus Expectations, is close from the beginning. The Supreme Court is patient (they run a modified 5-4 offensive scheme), but the players do go in different directions at the end of games. Expectations can be tricky to manage, and in the end, Expectations prove more explosive than a divided Supreme Court team.

Red Bracket: Team Expectations

White Bracket:

In one of the most anticipated first round games of the tournament, Team Romney goes head to head with Team Mormonism, a match up that many thought would happen in the Final Four. Mormonism plays a wide open style and can smother anyone in the country with its deep bench, but in this game, Romney picks his spots and neutralizes Mormonism with a half court trap. Mormonism didn’t have a prayer. Next, Team National Debates is matched up against Team SuperPACs, a game billed as Brains versus Brawn. Like Congress, SuperPACs has been investigated numerous times for violations, and there has been strong evidence that some referees were compensated to throw games in their favor. That could have happened in this contest, since SuperPACs muscles its way to victory against the uninspired competition of National Debates, with their players just standing around.

The White Regional Final of Romney versus SuperPACs is a seesaw battle from the opening tip, with both teams working down low and both teams working hard to win over the crowd. In the final minute, Romney dribbles the ball off of his foot, one a several unforced errors by Romney, and SuperPACs advances to the Final Four.

White Bracket: Team SuperPACs

Purple Bracket:

The first game of the Purple Bracket is never close. It’s all Team Bain Capital over Team Newt, the last team selected for the tournament. Team Newt plays an undisciplined game, throwing up half court shots at will and arguing petty fouls with the refs. The nightcap has Team National Unemployment Rate vying for supremacy against a noisy little opponent, Team Wedge Issue. Wedge Issue plays different styles in every game, and usually come out of nowhere near the end of the game to upset the favorite. This game is no different, with Wedge Issue stealing the ball and the limelight as the National Unemployment Rate goes down hard.

The last team to qualify for the Final Four will either be Bain Capital or Wedge Issue. It’s not a fair fight. Bain plays stiff, makes no halftime adjustments, and exits the scene quickly once this year’s Cinderella, Wedge Issue, becomes the darling of the raucous crowd, a crowd so loud that you can hardly think.

Purple Bracket: Team Wedge Issue

So here are your Final Four pairings – Obama vs. SuperPACs, and Expectations vs. Wedge Issue.

My Predictions:

Obama has the moves and the flexibility to adapt quickly in any game setting. Obama has the skills to create his own shots under pressure. SuperPACs can deliver, but they’ve got to have the ball down extremely low, and Obama can play all-star caliber defense. Look for SuperPACs to play for the last shot, but time will expire on them before they get a clean look at the basket. Pick: Team Obama

While Wedge Issue can unexpectedly shoot and score from any spot on the court, Expectations is always a tough out. Once Expectations get set in the post, no amount of outside shooting will knock them down. Pick: Team Expectations

So there you have it. My Political National Championship Bracket comes down to Obama versus Expectations for all the marbles. If Obama can guard Expectations and control the clock, he will win. March Madness will then be officially replaced by November Insanity.

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