Wednesday, January 27, 2010

State of the Union Pre-Game

Back in heady days of my youth, I was involved in a group that regularly met to play cards, specifically a trick-taking card game similar to Bridge. This was a weekly occurrence, and several of us got quite good at the game.

I was, and I suppose still am, a fairly cautious card play: I refuse to bid unless I know that I can win my hand on my own, as I have no faith that my partner will be able to help me. This can be frustrating to my partners after the hand is played, as it is sometimes quite obvious that between the two of us, we could have won the hand had we tried.

There was one among our group, let's call him "Steve," who was, by far, the most ingenious player I've ever met. It was not rare for him to make an absurdly high bid, and still manage to eek out a victory, collecting all of his points. Steve would later go through a post-game analysis saying "well, I had this and this, and I assumed that you had this, and that the other guys had those, and I took a chance that this other card was in the discard pile..." and on-and-on until he proved to us that, no matter the quality of cards we had in our hands, he was going to win.

Steve was really, really good at cards.

Which brings me to the State of the Union. The way that I see it, Obama has a decent hand to play. It may not be a winning hand right now, but with some help from his partner, a little luck, and by being able to control the pace of the game, he could win big, like Steve. Unfortunately, he seems to view the hand that he has been dealt like me; sure I have a fist full of high cards in the trump suit, but because I can't guarantee a win I'm going to pass. In our little game, that means that the opposition gets more and more opportunities to score points as the hands drag on.

So what do I want to see from the State of the Union tonight? I want to see a President that knows that he can run the table, even if he's short one or two trump cards.

...And then starts to play that way.


MH said...

We used to play pitch. The father of a friend told me, before I had enough experience to know he was joking, that I should figure my partner was good for four whenever I bid.

headbang8 said...

A shrewd assessment.

May I be rude for a moment, ADB?

The way you played was utterly American. If we can't win through shock and awe, we don't quite know what else to do. All or nothing.

The way Steve played was kind of European. A little here, a little there, and you achieve a high chance of success, without it actually reaching the stage where it is guaranteed. Then you take the chance.

All or nothing. Black and white. Red and Blue. Evangelical or Damned. How did American life get this way? And is it any wonder that in American politics, the European style of play loses?

Or does it?

Anonymous said...


Yeah, except Americans won't watch a 90-minute soccer (football) game that will end in a tie. How do Europeans do that?

Win or lose, why are you afraid to settle the damn thing!?