Among the many annoying things in American politics these days, one of the most irksome is the lazy shorthand of “red states” vs. “blue states.” It’s a false dichotomy, since most states are “blue” in the cities and “red” everywhere else. I live in New York state, which is considered so overwhelmingly “blue” that neither Bush nor Kerry bothered to campaign here in 2004. But that’s because most of the state’s population is concentrated within the tiny area of New York City, which has 8 million people, most of them Democrats. Rattle around upstate New York for a few hours and you’ll find a political (and geographical) landscape that you could easily mistake for, say, rural Indiana. “Blue”? Get real.
Unfortunately, the red/blue paradigm has become so pervasive, and the political scene is so divisively polarized, that many TV news anchors and commentators now avoid wearing red or blue ties on Election Night, for fear of appearing biased toward one party or the other. And what color do they wear instead, the color that is now becoming the de facto uniform of objective political neutrality? Well, think about what you get when you mix red and blue…
That’s right: my worst nightmare.
I first noticed the purple tie phenomenon in 2004, and I had a feeling it would snowball this year. I wasn’t home on Election Night (I was invited to the campaign victory party for a local candidate), and I don’t have a DVR, so I asked a few DVR-equipped readers to scour the airwaves for purple-clad talking heads. They came through beyond my wildest dreams, documenting a staggering number of examples. Check out this roll call (colors may vary a bit, due to the vagaries of TV screen shots, but I’ve been assured that all the neckties in question were in fact purple):
Lee Cowan; Charlie Rose; Jim Lehrer; Paul Begala (who’s a Democratic consultant, so why the hell is he trying to look unbiased?); some unidentified guy on MSNBC; Mort Kondracke (who has always looked like a rodent, but never more so than in this screen shot); Lou Dobbs; an unidentified guest on Fox News; Brit Hume; Howard Fineman; the Fox-4 Dallas male anchor; David Gregory; Carl Cameron; Brian Williams; Bob Shrum; two guys on CNBC (looks like the one on the right is Bob Barr, except it doesn’t make sense that he’d be trying to appear unbiased); David Shuster; Bill Hemmer; and George Stephanopolis (doesn’t look purple, I know, but trust me).
Oh, and then there was Margaret Warner.
While we’re at it, purple was also the dominant hue of the recent Iraqi elections, thanks to that dye they used to indicate when a person had voted, which led to an endless stream of photos like this, this, this, this, this, and this. If this is what democracy’s all about, maybe totalitarianism isn’t so bad after all.
(Mega-thanks to everyone who helped out with the TV research for today’s entry, especially Mark Graban, Chris Hilf, Phil Primato, Jim Ellwanger, Jeff Olson, Gaylord Fields, and Brian Temke — great work, guys.)
Uni Watch News Ticker: On Monday I ran a screen shot of Cedric Benson’s decal malfunction. Turns out he wasn’t the only one having decal problems over the weekend. (Big thanks to Matthew Butch.) … Smart question from Jeff Dunnavant regarding Don Zimmer’s ever-changing uni number: “What did Zimmer do in 1999, his 51st season in baseball? Bernie Williams would have been wearing 51 for the Yankees and, we know he didn’t switch.” Good point. Anyone got a 1999 Yankees yearbook? … Photo of the Year candidate submitted by Bryan Redemske, who says, “This is what they wear in western Nebraska. It’s from the Spencer-Naper vs. Stapleton playoff game in Stapleton, Neb., on Monday.” … According to this article, Sunday’s Vikings/49ers game, which the Niners won, 9-3, “marked the second straight season that [placekicker] Nedney accounted for all of San Francisco’s points when the club wears throwback unis at home. Last year, Nedney’s five field goals lifted the Niners over Tampa Bay, 15-10.” (Nice catch by Dominic J. Litten, who also points out the fine sock stripings of Archbishop Moeller High in Ohio). … Very, uh, unique jersey design (and ultra-modern playing facilities) displayed by the semi-pro Carolina Heat (with thanks to BJ Lanier). … The Diamondbacks are slated to unveil their new uniforms tonight. … Even in Japan, Jose Reyes still does that stupid untucked-jersey thing. Also, as Bryan Redemske notes, the MLBers are wearing their road unis, but Jacque Jones has a Cubs home cap. … Excellent tidbit from Bryan Koval, who writes: “I was flipping through my Nittany Lion Club newsletter, and there was a brief column with Brad ‘Spider’ Caldwell, the Equipment and Facilities Coordinator for the Penn State football team. He described a change to the Penn State uniform that took place this year, and I didn’t even notice it! For the first time, Penn State had the blue stripe painted onto their helmets, instead of using a blue strip of tape. Caldwell said that the equipment staff fixes dings to the paint with a magic marker, and it gives the team easier access to the holes on top of the helmet that are used to inflate the padding.” … Check out this cool Georgia Tech helmet history wallpaper, courtesy of Byron Wages. … Eric J. Discher notes that the “J” on Martin Brodeur’s mask appears to be slightly narrower this year than it was last year.