This story is over 5 years old.


Why Do All National Politicians Look Like Failed College Basketball Coaches?

Giving an important question the consideration that it deserves. On Twitter, after midnight.
Photo by John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

I stay up late during the week. It's not necessarily a smart thing to do, especially given that I seldom have a good reason for it, or even a reason beyond "well, this extremely garbage Pac-12 basketball game is still on." There is always work to do, and there is usually something to watch, and all this utility-grade scotch isn't going to drink itself, you know? This is half the explanation for why I spent the first hour-plus of Wednesday morning comparing national politicians to various types of failed college basketball coaches. It's not the good half, and I'm not sure there is a good half, but it is the first half.


Read More: Jim Harbaugh or the Zodiac Killer? An Important Quiz

The second is that this is a thing I think about, even when I am not deferring going to sleep. I really do think that most national political figures resemble failed college basketball coaches in some way, although I can't tell you whether this is because both groups wear suits and are exasperated all the time or because I do not get enough sleep. To look at, say, Senator Rand Paul from a certain angle is to see a man who led Tulane to consecutive nine-win seasons and once lost to Rice, at home, by 33 points. These clammy, posturing, hard-hunted men have some essential things in common. There is in them the same combination of vanity and panic; there is the same frazzled authority; there is hard work undone by circumstance, and also perhaps some notes of monthlong hangover; there is the Jos. A. Bank suit that is being given all it can take from within and without.

To their constituencies and in their districts, these men are actual figures of authority, people who are if not always admired, mostly obeyed. On television, though, fighting their parallel losing battles against ridiculousness—it's what undoes all authority figures, sooner or later—they look so much smaller and sillier. There, we see that they are mostly just men yelling in distress as the bigger and more willful world rolls right over their ambitions to power; we see them revealed as little tyrants whose kingdoms are overrun and sacked by Visigoths—or, anyway, by Iowa State—twice weekly. They are the same. Or they are if you think about it too much.

So, late at night, I asked people on Twitter to give me the names of national political figures, and responded with that political figure's coaching CV. This is what happened. Eventually, we all went to bed. Thank you to the esteemed @ctatplay for the Storify-ing duties.

</p><p>[<a href="//" target="_blank">View the story "When We Were Coaches" on Storify</a>]</p><p>