DOUBLETAKE: Guilt by association

Welcome to Doubletake, your morning cup of joe with Tribune correspondents Jim Tankersley and Jim Oliphant. They can also been seen starring in a musical version of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” at the Potomac Playhouse through Aug. 29. The pork chops are half-price.

Jim Oliphant: Bonjiourno. Tough night last night

Jim Tankersley: Don’t tell me — you took the red-eye in from the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, and you missed the women’s gymnastics individual events in flight.

Oliphant: Georgia’s always on my-my-my-my-my-my-my-my mind.
No, close. Picture this: Your football team hasn’t been on Monday Night Football for FIVE years. And yeah, it’s preseason, so who cares. But they are playing the world champions and there is a buzz around the team. Maybe a real contender . . .

Tankersley: Is this the part where you admit your team is the Browns?

Oliphant: It’s like a witness protection program, right? Or AA? My name is Jim and I am a Cleveland fan. Hi Jim!

Oliphant: So I sit down to watch the game and almost before I can blink: penalties, fumbles, runback, sacks, safeties…it’s like a blur. I look up and it is literally 30-3 at the end of the first quarter! It felt like the opening scene of Gladiator. Unleash hell!

Tankersley: I am contractually obligated to remind you that the NFL preseason matters less than the Des Moines straw poll.

Oliphant: Hey, it was their first team against ours and it looked like Russia versus Georgia. (In the freestyle war competition) Bottom line: They are simply not ready for prime time.

Tankersley: I will allow you your Cleveland misery. But speaking of all this Georgia stuff: Would you please explain the Joe Biden boomlet to me? I know you trailed him for a week in Iowa. How did he go from almost-zero land to short list?

Oliphant: I think it’s pretty simple. Obama went to Hawaii. The Russians went to South Ossetia. And suddenly John McCain had the field clear to be presidential on a matter perceived to be Obama’s greatest weakness. It might have convinced some in his campaign that they needed someone who could stand up and be taken seriously on world affairs.

Tankersley: But does America take Joe Biden seriously? I know the party faithful do — I saw one of them crash a New Hampshire press conference to ask John Edwards if he’d pick Biden as running mate (ah, the days when John Edwards looked like a contender for … anything).

Oliphant: Biden, despite his tendency to talk until the trees lose their leaves, is a heavy hitter in that regard. Watching him talk (and talk) in the basement of a public library in a small town in Iowa about the origins of Iraq and a Brief History of the Kurds convinced me and the 15 other people there. And then we went outside and the Statue of Liberty was half-sticking out of the ground. It was like Planet of the Apes!

Read the rest at the Swamp.

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