If this year's presidential election is a race, it's the slowest one since the Tour de France back before the bikers started popping uppers. These guys have been campaigning for two years now. For the most part, the only running they've done is in place.
It's time for the media to adopt a new metaphor to describe this process. Because elections have now become endurance contests, I'd suggest dropping the track meet in favor of the boxing match.
I often thought that presidential candidates resembled heavyweight boxers. Mostly the contenders pale by comparison to past champions. When a great one comes along, the competition is usually so weak that his victories seem less impressive. Only once in a lifetime do we get the thrill of Ali vs. Frazier who set the mark not only for subsequent champions but also for their title defenses. The rest of the time, we get Johansson vs. Patterson, Holmes vs. Norton, Holyfield vs. Bowe.
So it is with Bush and Gore who've been slugging it out for a full fifteen rounds, landing occasional glancing blows. If you're keeping score or conducting polls, probably Bush won the early rounds when the only issues were integrity, name recognition, and how much money people stuffed in your pockets. Then Gore surged when he breezed through the primaries, after his rival had heart murmurs. Bush won the first convention round, Gore the second. Still there were no knockdowns.
Next came the debates, a split decision for Bush. Not that he looked so good, but at least he didn't behave like a jerk on nationwide TV. You might say that Gore went down when he slipped on the canvas, not from a solid punch. Other than that, it was mostly ducking and weaving on both sides. Various media pundits used different scorecards to rate these rounds. Gore was generally ahead on IQ, but Bush prevailed on TVQ, the fuzzy math that determines whether a TV personality has the right blend of familiarity and likeability to click with the audience. If a sitcom star has good TVQ scores but the show has low ratings, they fire the writers.
So now we move into the late rounds as hope fades for a knockout, or even a TKO. Finally the voters get to fill out their scorecards. Will they choose blithering self-confidence or intelligent insecurity? Will the next champ be the Republican with nice parents and a bunch of IOU's or the old new, new old Democrat? Will the crowd even stick around for the decision?
Fights like this reduced boxing to a minor sport.