“You’re blowing it now, son! You’re blowing it!” exclaimed the late fight trainer Angelo Dundee to boxer Sugar Ray Leonard between rounds 12 and 13 of his fight with Thomas Hearns. Leonard picked up the pace, and he stopped Hearns in round 14.
A pack of Democratic title contenders are fighting each other, looking for the title shot. President Donald Trump waits, cradling his big MAGA punch. After the Democratic debates, the floor is slick with metaphorical blood, but the crowd is bored. Watching a bunch of second-rate pugs with no defense pound each other isn’t enough. The crowd wants the main event.
And every Democrat is blowing it, son. Already.
Perhaps that will change in the main event, but you tell me now, what is Bernie Sanders’ best punch: Let’s be more like Norway? That punch doesn’t land out in the middle-class suburbs where being Norwegian is not a popular ambition.
“Vote for me,” the hook says. “I look and sound like everyone else who’s run for president in the last 20 years, including the black guy.”
Elizabeth Warren? She can punch, but she has no footwork. In a time of near full employment, she tries to rouse a sleepy rabble with watery bouts of anti-rich-person rhetoric. Watch Clinton vs. Trump. He moved. She didn’t. He telegraphed all of his punches, and she still got hit by every shot. No footwork.
Pete “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg? His last fight was in the amateurs, somewhere in the Midwest. His next fight will be for the title. He doesn’t have much time to learn.
Mike Bloomberg? Not hungry enough. Trump may have had a lot of money, but he had that sneer of the boy who thinks everyone else is laughing at him. It was obvious from the first round that he wanted to hurt someone, to get revenge for something, some weeping wound that may go back decades.
Watching this passionless undercard fight, the Democrats are already blowing it.
No one has that short, hard punch you need to break a cheekbone, crush a nose, send an opponent into the crossed ankle dance and down.
Watch Trump vs. Clinton again. Trump’s punches were short: “Lock her up!” “Make America great again!” “Build the wall!”
Nonsense? Only in the real world. Inside the political ring, they were heavy, hurting blows. Look at Clinton. She’s punch drunk now, all the little lights in her brain blinking out of sequence. How could some one hit her so hard with such obvious lies and still win, she asks herself every night before the pillow receives her aching head.
The challengers, once they get in the ring for the big fight, need to go straight at Trump, and then move when they get close. Punch. Name call. Demean. Then, slide to the side.
This is no time for subtlety. Get up on your toes and say to Trump that he doesn’t know anything about diplomacy, that he can’t understand anything more complex than a bomb. Set yourself to punch and call him “stupid.” Say that very word. Stupid.
Move. Ask him if the Mexicans are paying for the wall. Ask him if North Korea still has nukes. Ask him if the coal jobs are back. Ask him, and keep asking over and over and over.
If your own record is clean, throw the “draft-dodger” punch over and over. Call him a coward. Use that word. Coward. Throw the “paying off hookers” punch whenever he seems a little confused.
You can’t beat Trump from a distance, throwing pretty punches in the air. You have to get inside on him and break his ribs.
Most of all, make fun of him. Bullies take a punch better than they take a joke.
— Marc Dion is a retired columnist at the Fall River (Mass.) Herald News and author of Devil’s Elbow: Dancing in the Ashes of America, a collection of his recent columns. Contact hin at email@example.com, and follow him on Twitter: @MARCMDION. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.