PERIOD – BAR NONE
Yesterday, while writing on matters most serious, Hugh Hewitt said:
Analogies might work if any of them have basic history down.
A statement that proved most prophetic as not long after Aaron Blake posted this at The Fix:
Ron Paul is the Butler Bulldogs of Republican presidential politics.
I enter into any discussion of Dr. Paul with both fear and trembling. You have no idea the amount of email we have received here because we have not included the good doctor on our masthead, because we have refused to address him at all. There is a reason for that – one we will discuss momentarily. But I could not leave this be. Blake’s extraordinary ignorance of college basketball make this analogy not merely wrong, but terribly insulting to the Butler Bulldogs. Long time readers of this blog know that Butler is my alma mater and deep affection for the basketball program resides in this parts. Such insult may not be allowed to stand.
Blake’s analogy here consists primarily of saying saying that Butler made a stand but did not win:
Butler, you may recall, is the second-tier — a.k.a. “mid-major” — college basketball program that made the NCAA Final Four two straight years in 2010 and 2011, only to lose in the National Championship game to storied programs from Duke and Connecticut.
Like Butler, Paul wasn’t supposed to win the nomination and basically nobody thought he would, and that lack of an expectation is what makes his campaign a success.
The bad news for Paul is that, like Butler, sustaining the momentum has proven difficult.
Despite their consecutive national championship game appearances, Butler failed to make the field of 68 teams in the 2012 NCAA Tournament this year, finishing the season a very pedestrian 20-14.
But at least for a few years, when people think of the underdog making a statement, they will think of Butler, who for a couple seasons danced with the big boys.
You would think success in college basketball can be measured by victory in only one game. Less than a handful of schools in history have made the Final Four in consecutive years. The list of those that have defines the elite of college basketball (UCLA, Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State, Kansas to name the biggest) and even excludes a few of the most successful programs in the country (Indiana). Ron Paul on the other hand is a boutique politician who will be at best a footnote in history.
In order to get to the Final Four, any team must win four consecutive games against teams that are, by their mere presence in the tournament, among the best in the nation. Ron Paul has yet to win anything but a congressional election.
And now to the reason we have never addressed Ron Paul here. No one has ever expected him to contend for the nomination – he always has been a “statement” candidate – using the free press of the campaign to gain exposure, but never seriously contending. There was no reason for us to cover him, he was not really running.
On the other hand, the Butler team of the ’09-’10 season spent the entire season in or very near the top ten in the rankings and was a serious contender from the pre-season forward. As the ’10-’11 season kicked off, a fan wrote to the USAToday college basketball pre-season supplement and asked “Who will most likely be this years Butler?” The pundits there answered simply, “Butler.” Butler’s success of the last two seasons was not unexpected to any serious observer of college basketball. Nor is a 20-14 season “very pedestrian.” A 20 win season is the benchmark for success. Not even the most storied of programs (UCLA) makes the tournament every year.
And then finally there is this – Ron Paul will end up an historical footnote. Someone will write a thesis on him at some point that no one will read. In the end nothing has changed.
The Butler Bulldogs of the last two years are already the stuff of legend, and they may forever have changed the landscape of college basketball. One must remember that their semi-final opponent of last year was Virginia Commonwealth – another “mid-major.” History may yet prove that Butler was not a fluke, but lead the charge. As the NBA sucks talent into its maw at earlier and earlier ages, the mid-majors with their ability to keep their players around until graduation may come to dominate the college game.
Butler is far from done, while Ron Paul is done like an over-cooked turkey. Paul is too old and too tired to make another run. With the incredibly young Brad Stevens at the helm and the money and visibility the last two years have brought to Butler, there is nothing but success in their future.
And if Aaron Blake wants to take this to the next level – a radio or TV debate – I am available.