Trende’s Tuesday Scenarios; Hagan-Tillis Close-Up; Early Voting Tallies; Rumble in the Jungle
Good morning, it’s Thursday, October 30, 2014. It’s only five days until Election Day 2014. It’s also John Adams’ birthday. The brainy Founder from Braintree, Mass., came into this world — a world he did so much to shape — 279 years ago today.
And on this date 40 years ago, the heavyweight championship of the world was decided in the central African nation of Zaire, now called the Democratic Republic of Congo. The boxing match, held at 4:30 a.m. so it could be shown in prime time in the United States, featured two American fighters: former heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali, 32, and the reigning champion, 25-year-old George Foreman.
I’ll have more on that historic fight — and how it has been compared to the Obama presidency — in moment. First, I’d like to direct you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which aggregates interesting stories and columns that span the ideological spectrum. We also offer an array of original material from RCP’s reporters and contributors, including the following:
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Two Scenarios for Tuesday. Sean Trende doesn’t have a crystal ball, but he does have a vast knowledge of polling and voting trends, which he puts to use here in forecasting likely GOP Senate gains next week.
Can Nunn Re-create Georgia’s 1990s Democratic Coalition? Sean examines changes in the state that have reduced the Senate candidate’s chances of success – but hold out a narrow pathway to victory.
In N.C. Senate Race, It’s Obama’s Record vs. Legislature’s. Caitlin Huey-Burns filed this report from the Tar Heel State, where both Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis have to defend policies that aren’t necessarily their own.
Republican Ballots Lead in Colorado Early Voting. David Byler has the details in the state where the U.S. Senate and governor races are tightly contested. He also breaks down the early-voting tally in Florida.
Polls: Democrats Hold Advantage Among Latino Voters. Adam O’Neal lays out the numbers.
Methanol — the Fuel in Waiting. In Part 4 of this week’s series on energy innovation and the American economy, William Tucker explains why this promising energy source is failing to gain traction as an alternative fuel.
When “Bumpkins” Are Smarter Than Elites. Heather Wilhelm shares her reaction to a recent New York Times Magazine article and its revealing subtext.
Ed Gillespie’s Credible Obamacare Alternative. In RealClearPolicy, James Capretta spells out the Virginia Senate candidate’s plan for replacing the Affordable Care Act.
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The October 30, 1974 fight between Ali and Foreman was arranged by Don King. The flamboyant boxing promoter had originally titled it “From the Slave Ship to the Championship,” but when Zaire President Mobutu Sese Seko saw that on fliers advertising the bout, he ordered the posters torn down.
President Seko had standing to make such a decision: He’d put up $5 million of his own money for each fighter — God only knows where it came from — so King coined another tag line for the bout: “The Rumble in the Jungle.”
The fight had political overtones, and they were not subtle. At the 1968 Olympics, George Foreman had won a gold medal in boxing, destroying Russian Ionas Chepulis in the finals, then celebrated by holding a small American flag in the center of the ring and bowing to the Mexico City crowd.
Eight years earlier, boxing under his birth name Cassius Clay, Ali had won an Olympic gold medal in Rome and gone on to the world heavyweight title. But he soon converted to Islam, refused the draft, chose prison over Vietnam, and was stripped of his title by the suits who ran boxing.
Ali had a chip on his shoulder and much to prove in the ring. He also had, as always, a larger political agenda. “I wanted to establish a relationship between American blacks and Africans,” he said later. “The fight was about racial problems, Vietnam — all of that. The Rumble in the Jungle was a fight that made the whole country more conscious.”
These overtones were not lost on the crowd of 60,000. As the two men climbed into the ring, many in the crowd in Kinshasa’s outdoor stadium chanted, “Ali, bomaye!” (“Ali, kill him!”) As Los Angeles Times sportswriter Bill Dwyre wrote recently, it was an omen Foreman should have seen coming.
Foreman came out swinging, as he always did. Ali came out dancing around, evading the bigger and younger man’s punches. But after the first three or four rounds, both men realized they were in trouble. Foreman, swinging mostly at air, was getting winded. Ali, dancing more than usual, at an age not considered young for a fighter, realized his legs were tiring.
The difference was that Foreman had no Plan B. Ali quickly came up with one: It was dubbed “rope-a-dope” by his corner, and it entailed letting Foreman swing at Ali, who covered himself with his own arms and gloves. Foreman literally punched himself out before Ali sprang to action in the eighth round, knocking Foreman to the canvas where he was counted out by the referee with only two seconds to go in the round.
Ali has talked a lot about that victory in the ensuing years, but in an interview with Playboy magazine, he summed up what happened to Foreman in one sentence: “He didn’t realize how hard I am to hit and how hard I can hit.”
That might be a fitting last word on the historic fight in the Congo, but I can’t resist this political reference from last year about Barack Obama and the “rope-a-dope” tactic. Fox News talker Bill O’Reilly invoked it while discussing with David Letterman how the Obama administration is handling various controversies, including Benghazi and the IRS scandal.
“There’s a strategy to it,” O’Reilly said of the president. “He thinks that the American public is so distracted by all the machines and the iPads and the phones that they’re going to forget about it, they’ll get bored about it, and he can ride it out. It’s the rope-a-dope strategy, and that’s what he’s doing.”
“I have a feeling that’s not what he’s thinking,” replied a skeptical Letterman.
“When have I ever been wrong on this program?” O’Reilly deadpanned.
Carl M. Cannon Washington Bureau Chief RealClearPolitics Twitter: @CarlCannon