Manning up

Patriot games: Imagine that 19,000 Jewish senior citizens in Palm Beach County, Fla., most of them registered Democrats, weren’t bamboozled by a badly designed butterfly ballot into voting for Republican Pat Buchanan in the 2000 presidential race. Imagine the U.S. Supreme Court, stacked with conservative political cronies, never intervened in the recount, throwing the presidency to George W. Bush. Imagine global-warming poster boy Al Gore as president, and you still won’t come close to touching the elation Bites feels over the 17-14 defeat the New York Giants dealt to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII last Sunday.

Bites does not mean to trivialize football, one of America’s greatest historical contributions, via comparison to something as banal as the national political process. Without democracy, well, you get kind of what we have now under President Chuckle Nuts. Not so bad, as long as you’re not poor and/or an Iraqi. Or Afghan. Or a citizen of any Third World country with a plentiful supply of natural resources, including slave labor. But without football, you lose your entire moral frame of reference; good and evil, already vague terms in our imperial age, become indistinguishable.

Serious stuff.

Excess of evil: So God bless the New England Patriots, champions of the American Football Conference, for reminding us what evil is! Evil is Patriots coach Bill “Belichoke” Belichick illegally videotaping opponents’ practices, then, after getting caught and heavily fined, winning every game of the regular season and running the table in the playoffs. Evil is malcontent Patriot receiver Randy Moss breaking classy San Francisco 49er Jerry Rice’s record for touchdown catches. Evil is Patriot pretty-boy quarterback Tom Brady dating Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen.

Good is anything that can stop this so-called dynasty, and heading into the big game, virtually no one thought that would be quarterback Eli Manning and the New York Giants. Indeed, two months ago, New York’s sports media was openly calling for Manning’s head. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama has wrestled with a similar fate. Until recently, no one gave Obama much of chance against the Clinton dynasty, fronted this time around by noted Tammy Wynette fan HillaryStand By Your ManClinton.

That included Bites, who desperately clung to the Libertarian candidacy of Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul, the only candidate from either side of the aisle who has consistently pledged to end the war in Iraq. With Paul’s campaign fizzling out, Bites was resigned to the inevitable choice between the lesser of two evils awaiting us this fall.

Giant steps: But hallelujah! All that changed during last week’s Democratic debate in Hollywood. CNN debate host Wolf Blitzer blitzed Obama with a series of questions designed to pin the smooth-talking signal caller behind the line of scrimmage. Like Manning eluding a pack of onrushing Patriot linemen, Obama broke out of the pocket for the first time. He swatted away Blitzer’s feeble attempt at race baiting, and completed a risky pass down the tax-and-spend liberal middle. When the subject of the Iraq war came up, Obama found Plaxico Burress all alone in the end zone for a touchdown.

“I don’t want to just end the war, but I want to end the mindset that got us into war in the first place,” Obama said. “That’s the kind of leadership I intend to provide as president of the United States.”

Does Obama mean it? Some observers doubt it. But Bites can’t help but feel a corner has been turned. The “Super Bowl Effect” holds that in years in which the National Football Conference wins the title, the economy performs better. The Giants are an NFC team, and while the stock market dropped 370 points on Super Tuesday, at press time Obama appeared to be on the verge of toppling the Clinton dynasty. That can’t be all bad. In fact, it’s … super.