Tonight's Patriots game proved once again that important lessons can be learned from sports. Denver beat New England 27–13; but every point that Denver scored came from an interception or turnover. This was a crucial game for New England, their chance to become the first team in NFL history to win three straight titles — and they lost.
I can't help seeing political parallels in these things; and in this case, the Patriots fell prey to exactly the same fault that has cost the Democratic Party two straight presidential elections: Make enough mistakes, and you lose.
Our society places tremendous emphasis on excellence. But excellence demands risk; if you're going to achieve greatness, you've got to be prepared to spend a lot of time being knocked on your ass. Excellence requires a stretch, an extra mile — and sometimes in the rush to attain excellence, we forget to just be good.
Al Gore campaigned from the White House. John Kerry opposed a sitting president with dismal approval and enough controversies to maintain a tabloid. Both enjoyed the idolatry of the mainstream press — and both squandered every advantage they had by making mistake after mistake after mistake. The Republicans didn't win the last two elections. The Democrats lost.
Forget excellence. There's absolutely nothing you can win through flashy plays that you can't earn just as well with a good ground game. So now it's back to Foxboro, back to the drawing board for next year — for the Democrats, it's back to the stable to find a horse to run in 2008. For both, it's back to basics.
Slow and steady wins the race.