By Tera Ertz
“Have no fear, Underdog is Here!” Being a child of the eighties, this was the first thing that flashed through my mind upon hearing the clip of President Obama’s interview with George Stephanopoulos. “I’m used to being the underdog…” Really? After getting over my initial bout of side-splitting laughter both at the idea of George Stephanopoulos terming himself a journalist when asking such leading and banal questions, and at the idea the President considers himself an underdog, I started to mull over what this word actually means to the American people. As a society, we do after all, tend to root for the underdog in most contests. In movie after movie, and book after book, we find ourselves most admiring the hero who starts from nothing, and against impossible odds, through sheer hard work, chutzpah and personal peril, comes out victorious in the end. The unending longevity of the Rocky franchise is in itself testament to the fact that American audience will turn out to root for the underdog, regardless of the story line itself. I decided to undulate over to dictionary.com to take a gander at what they had to say about the word. Here’s what I found:
2. a victim of social or political injustice: The underdogs were beginning to organize their protests.
This definition fits with what we tend to think of as an underdog. The poor kid who works odd jobs all over town to put himself through school to eventually rise to the top of whatever his profession is. The awkward teen who gets the date with the homecoming queen because he’s really the best guy on the planet. Even the early political movements of voting rights for blacks and women were illustrations of this sense we have of the word. It evokes in Americans the idea that because these folks had to overcome so much, if there is any justice in this world, they deserve to reap the benefits of their perseverance. I think it is perhaps a by-product of the birth of this nation, when these itty-bitty thirteen colonies rose up against the strongest empire on the planet at the time and threw off the shackles of tyranny with the cry “Give me Liberty or Give me Death.” Buried, deeply these days, somewhere in the national psyche is a recognition that we started life as a country as the quintessential underdog and through sheer tenacity and the grace of God, we became one of the greatest forces for good and freedom and human advancement ever to grace this rock we call Earth. We are drawn to kindred spirits working to overcome impossible odds to embody the triumph of Truth, Justice and the American Way. But, is this really an apt descriptor of President Obama?
This is the man who became President with popularity ratings through the roof. He came into office with a Congress completely committed to his cause. In other words, while it could be argued that because of the color of his skin or even his hard-left political ideology, he was an underdog in 2008, once he got into office he had the support structure of the entire US federal government backing his every play. In this election cycle, he has the fundraising advantage so far, especially as funding on the other side is still scattered among multiple candidates. He has the bully pulpit of his office to tout his message. He has the record of his accomplishments in office (regardless of your political view of the benefit to him of that record). He has tax-payer funded access to multiple venues and across the board access to the press that is denied to every other candidate because they do not currently hold the office of President. Now, don’t get me wrong, this particular piece is not a criticism of President Obama for utilizing the perks that come with incumbency. It is simply an illustration that he is, indeed, the incumbent, and that does, indeed, come with campaigning advantages that no other candidate has.
Are we, perhaps, misunderstanding what President Obama and Mr. Stephanopoulos meant by underdog? The other definition listed follows:
1. a person who is expected to lose in a contest or conflict.
Well, according to some of the latest polling data, and the fondest wishes of the Tea Party movement and many others, this may indeed be true. Those of us who love our country and believe wholeheartedly that the policies being promoted by this President are bad for us can only hope. But, being an expected loser in a contest does not an underdog make in the normal understanding of the word, the understanding that would cause my fellow citizens to start rooting for the man in the Oval. And for him to start tossing around that particular moniker only illustrates how disengaged, disingenuous, and possibly even desperate he really is.
There’s no need to fear! Underdog is here!
when criminals in this world appear
and break the laws that they should fear
and frighten all who see or hear
the cry goes up both far and near
for Underdog! Underdog! Underdog! Underdog!
Given the current state of President Obama’s Justice Department, with cases dropped against people carrying truncheons at voting places, guns being sold to criminals, companies being raided for unclear laws, refusals to support immigration laws, and the good Lord only knows what else, I’m not thinking our President is living up to the superhero status of Underdog when it comes to criminals.
when in this world the headlines read
of those whose hearts are filled with greed
who rob and steal from those who need
to right this wrong with blinding speed
goes Underdog! Underdog! Underdog! Underdog!
On the other hand, his and his fellow liberals policies against corporations and bankers, including Dick Durbin’s call for a run on Bank of America, constant calls from across the hallowed halls of DC for the rich to “pay their fair share,” and the latest call from fringe lefty candidate Roseanne Barr to behead those who refuse to give up their wealth, even after re-education, he might fit the bill after all. When looking at the Communist message that permeated so many of the cartoons of my childhood, it’s a wonder any of us survived to become conservative adults. Looks like this is the end. But don’t miss our next Learn the Lingo, and be wary the wielders of words.