Lose big enough and one day you won’t matter at all.
Listen to the broadcast of You Tell Me on KTBB AM 600, Friday, January 4, 2013.
It being college bowl season, and Friday (Jan. 4, 2013) being the very day in which Oklahoma meets Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl Classic, please indulge me in a sports analogy as we ponder the political scene.
At one time Dallas’s Cotton Bowl Classic ran with the big dogs. It, together with the Rose Bowl, the Sugar Bowl and the Orange Bowl, constituted the very definition of New Year’s Day in America.
In most years, the Cotton Bowl Classic featured a face-off between teams ranked in the top ten nationally. In some years, the game decided the national champion.
Some of the greatest football players ever – names like Bart Starr, Roger Staubach, Joe Theisman, Joe Montana, Troy Aikman and Eli Manning – played in the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day.
The game always featured the champion of the Southwest Conference against a highly-ranked invited opponent. Such invitations were greatly prized. Members of the Cotton Bowl Team Selection Committee, wearing green blazers and tan slacks and themselves former Southwest Conference players, were among the most important men in football in the closing weeks of the college football regular season.
For decades, the television broadcast of the Cotton Bowl was one of the brightest stars in the CBS Sports galaxy.
But in the early 1990s, the Southwest Conference fell upon hard times, much of which was the result of self-inflicted wounds. NCAA sanctions resulting from numerous recruiting violations at Southwest Conference schools, including the now infamous “death penalty” carried out by the NCAA upon Southern Methodist University, led to a decline in the quality of play in the SWC. That decline eventually led to the demise of the SWC and was devastating to the Cotton Bowl.
In a five-year run beginning in 1991, the host Southwest Conference team would lose five straight games by an aggregate score of 163 to 43. The 1991 game between Miami and Texas was the worst. Texas lost 46 to three. Texas A&M managed to score only a safety the following year against Florida State and then only a field goal the next year against Notre Dame.
TV ratings suffered, giving Tempe, Arizona’s Fiesta Bowl the opening it needed to push the Cotton Bowl aside and to ultimately join the Cotton Bowl’s three former peers – the Rose, the Sugar and the Orange – in the Bowl Championship Series.
By now you may be asking, what does all of this have to do with the current political scene?
The answer is; congressional Republicans are in many ways replicating the experience of the Southwest Conference and its once prestigious Cotton Bowl game. Largely through fecklessness and self-inflicted injury, Republicans are forfeiting their standing as a governing party.
Where the Southwest Conference teams of 1991 – ’95 lost 163 to 43, Republicans in Congress lost 41 to one in the just-concluded debacle over the so-called fiscal cliff. For every dollar in spending cuts put forth by the Republicans, the Democrats got 41 dollars in new taxes.
You read that correctly. Under the just-enacted legislation, taxes go up by $620 billion, spending is cut by a mere $15 billion. Do the math. It’s 41 to one. The Republicans got rolled – again.
When you lose that badly, it’s hard to say that you matter.
When the Cotton Bowl ceased being able to make its annual game a good contest, it fell from favor, lost its standing and today has no role in determining college football’s national champion.
Another couple of performances like that which we have just seen from Republicans, and they will have no role in governing the country.