John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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The Underdog

Posted on January 20, 2010

The Underdog




America loves an underdog.

And Scott Brown was the big underdog in the race against Martha Coakley that culminated in Brown’s ultimate triumph.

Brown reveled in his underdog status.  He talked incessantly about his old truck, his tough childhood, his rags to riches story, and his long-shot status as a political outsider.

His campaign rallies featured Doug Flutie, the ultimate football underdog, the man who threw the famous Hail Mary pass which put Boston College back on the college football map, the scrappy short guy who succeeded in the both the underdog Canadian football league and in the NFL.  They also featured Curt Schilling, who helped guide the underdog Boston Red Sox to their first World Series Championship in close to a hundred years.

And they featured Cliff Claven, the Postman from Cheers.  John Ratzenburger, who played Claven in the iconic television series, plays the down-and-out everyman better than anybody.

My own theory is that an endorsement from Cliff Claven is better in most areas than one from an elitist snob like John Kerry. Watching Kerry, who recently bought a multi-million dollar yacht, make fun of Scott Brown’s pick-up truck, further reminded me who the party of the rich really has become.  The Democrats are no longer the party of the people.  They are the party of Big Government, Big Labor, and Big Business.

America loves an underdog, because most Americans see themselves as underdogs.  And for most of our nation’s history, we were the underdogs.

As an emerging nation in the 19th Century, we didn’t have the culture or the vast wealth of European powers, like the English or the French.  What we did have was the American can-do spirit, which came from a nation of frontier settlers.

We were reluctant warriors when we went to end the war of all wars in 1917.  We were brutally attacked by the Japanese in 1941, and we saw ourselves as the underdog in our fight against the Nazis.  And, in fact, at the beginning of that conflict, we didn’t have the armed might of the Third Reich.

Even during the Cold War, we saw ourselves as the underdog against the evil Soviet Empire.  Our Olympic teams never had the resources that the Warsaw Pact countries, and when our boys beat the Soviets in Lake Placid in 1980, it was truly a “Cinderella” story.

We Americans like being the underdog.  We make a lousy Rome. We don’t want to go bailing out the rest of the world.  We don’t particularly want to keep the peace in far off places.  We don’t like being the lone super-power.

China’s rise gives us an excuse to once again be the underdog.  Obviously, they have more people, more money, more smarts.  But, because we are America, even though we are the underdog, we will put all of our American ingenuity, and we will beat them.

The problem for the Democrats and for President Obama is that they used to be the underdogs.  Now, they are the ones trying to stop the underdogs.

Scott Brown represents that individualistic, can-do, up-from-the-bootstraps kind of American underdog that is an iconic part of our national heritage.

Ronald Reagan was that kind of underdog.  Bill Clinton was that kind of underdog.  Jack Kennedy was that kind of underdog, and so was Richard Nixon.

Barack Obama was that kind of underdog when he ran his insurgent campaign against Hillary Clinton, and although there were some troubling signs that Obama was a secret elitist during the Presidential campaign, his opponent, John McCain, couldn’t make that an issue, as he was dealing with the disastrous GOP brand which smacked of Bush snobbery.

Obama is the snob now.  He is the one who wants to tell middle class Americans how to live their lives.  He is the one who telling us that we are too fat, too dumb, too rustic, too red-neck, and too greedy.  He is the one who wants us all to change to fit better his definition of what America should be all about.

Obama seems overly fascinated with himself (who can forget the picture of him carrying a copy of the GQ issue that featured the President on the cover).   He and his family appear on at least one magazine cover a week (a posed picture, not an action shot).  He loves to talk, and he loves to give speeches with his nose turned slightly up at the teleprompter.

The President’s populist demagoguery is unconvincing.  He talks of reigning in government spending, but does nothing to veto any spending bill from the Congress.  He talks of punishing the banks, but does so by raising taxes (which will hurt lending and hit the middle class the hardest).  He talks of taking on the drug industry, as he defends the deals he cuts with them.

The President and the Democrats are not the underdogs.  They are the establishment.  They are running the government.  They are raising the taxes.  They are spending the money.  They are passing unconstitutional mandates (according to some) on those who can’t afford to pay the penalties.

It is the Republicans who are now the underdogs.  Nobody gave them a shot, no body took them seriously, nobody thought they would be back so soon.

But as Scott Brown showed, the Republicans are back.  America loves an underdog, even if those underdogs are Republicans.