Nike’s new Tiger Woods ad drew criticism this week — for obvious reasons. In the context of Woods’ messy divorce, the “Winning Takes Care of Everything” slogan implied that winning makes up for the broken marriage (and possibly broken lives) he helped create.
In the real world, victory doesn’t take care of everything. Just ask any successful athlete who has lost a loved one if one more win can heal his heart.
Nike trolled us. They understood the implied context would make what might otherwise be an innocuous sports quote newsworthy and controversial. (Attention is good, never mind the message it sends to the culture and the kids.)
Of course, more figuratively and narrowly defined within the context of sports, the saying is both true and trite.
Sports teams that suffer from disruptive players, internal bickering, or an out-of-control locker room usually do find that all these problems magically go away in the midst of a winning streak.
Nothing succeeds like success. So yes, winning covers a multitude of (superficial) sins. Another saying in baseball goes like this: “You’re never as bad as you look when you’re losing, and you’re never as good as you look when you’re winning.”
This is true in politics, too. And, as fun as it is to bash Nike and Tiger Woods, this post is really about politics.
Winning, as they say, is contagious; so is losing (if you’re sensing that this is cliché-ridden, that just speaks to how commonplace the Nike slogan is within the context of sports.) But with all the problems Republicans face (including the fact that the Reagan coalition appears to be unravelling), there is still a real chance they could hold the House and win the senate and the presidency by 2016.
And if that happens, it’s possible that the other little nagging injuries — the death by a thousand cuts they endure daily — will go away. Politicians and pundits who talk out of turn might suddenly rethink that strategy when faced with powerful leadership in the White House. (Democrats still face difficulties today, of course, but nothing compared to what Republicans endure.)
If Republicans nominate a presidential candidate who can rhetorically inspire average Americans, while simultaneously using his or her political and rhetorical skills to hold the conservative coalition together (a tall order, but not impossible), many of the problems that look so challenging and intractable today might just take care of themselves.
in other words, winning could take care of everything.