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October 27, 2008

World Wrestling Election?


When historians look back at the 2008 campaign, they might see it not as the expression of national identity but the moment when the Republican Party finally transcended politics and became a troupe of traveling professional wrestlers.


The McCain campaign finally slew dignity last week when it announced that it planned to make “Joe the Plumber” the centerpiece, a symbol of everything the campaign is supposed to stand for.

There is no point in exposing the obfuscation behind Joe Six Pack’s story. He’s just a character in an ongoing entertainment serial. What is important is that, like all good professional wrestling stars, he burst out in a scene that screamed, “So shocking you won’t be able to turn away.”


Kind of like a train wreck.


Joe’s blindsiding of Barack Obama, who for this narrative is Evil Commie Muslim, was a character debuting by popping up and cracking an opponent over the head with a folding chair he found ringside. In real life, you might knock someone out, give him a serious concussion, or maybe even crack his skull. In professional wrestling, as with what happened that fateful Ohio afternoon, the bad guy gets up and into the ring so the audience can boo.


Then, he locks up with the good guy, in this case The Maverick, whose backstory includes things meant to touch on every heartstring that bleeds red, white and blue. He came to the ring eight years ago, wrapped in a cape patterned after the American flag and to his theme, “Proud to be an American.”


Although not always a crowd favorite – his habit of going against the two-dimensional script has always tended to anger up the crowd’s blood – he managed to win the chance to compete for the ultimate championship.


No one likes a champion the crowd can’t cheer, so when it went time to go tag-team, The Maverick hunted up The Hockey Mom, a kind of maverick-y Mini Me who eats moose, looks good in a skirt and otherwise lacks anything resembling qualifications for the job. She, like Joe the Plumber, burst onto the scene in dramatic fashion, rising to defend her family in loud, angry fashion from an anonymous Internet posting of dubious authorship that attacked her for having sexually active teenaged daughters.


This degrading spectacle might have continued – this month’s long match pitting The Maverick and The Hockey Mom versus Evil Commie Muslim and his partner, The Irrelevant Gaffe – were it not for the financial markets seizing up and sliding into the toilet. In fact, it did threaten to continue, with The Maverick’s dramatic suspension of his campaign long enough to parachute into Washington and torpedo a bipartisan deal to try to salvage the economy.


On the other hand, the campaign’s abrupt veering away from silliness to substance gave us just the right environment for Joe Six Pack to ambush Evil Commie Muslim ringside.


These things, professional wrestling matches that is, often end in a way that you could see coming a mile away. Some of them, however, save their biggest surprise for the end. We’ll see which way the election is turning out.


However, a trained eye can sometimes note emerging subplots. That is, once the big grudge match takes place, once the championship belt rests around someone’s mid-section, what new thing will keep fans riveted on the edge of their seats?


A clue of what new twist the screenwriters are crafting to keep the audience riveted came last week. Rumor has it that The Maverick is busy crafting a plan to blame their team’s defeat on The Hockey Mom, who is said by others to be considering “going off the reservation.” This has been picked up by the ringside announcers, a few of whom have criticized The Maverick for mishandling his teammate. That’s a pretty significant sign that someone else will be ambushed in dramatic fashion on Nov. 5 or shortly thereafter.


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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