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Daniel Menaker Headshot

Closing the Deal.

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What is this year-long vacuousness about Obama not "closing the deal" or "closing the sale"? In the Wall Street Journal today, Karl Rove, whose "voice" would be the voice of plain mashed potatoes if plain mashed potatoes could speak, employs poll data and history (Truman, Dukakis, etc.) to argue once again that Obama hasn't "closed the sale." First of all, casting elections as "deals" and "sales" speaks encyclopedias about how Rove and too many others think about the connection between voters and candidates. A deal, a sale. You'd think that given the disgrace in which the culture of finance in this nation at long last finds itself, political analysts would want to look elsewhere for their cliches. Maybe: "Obama hasn't quite parked the car yet." Or "Obama hasn't put the roof on the house." Or "Obama has to pitch the last of the ninth before his team wins."

But second, of course he hasn't "closed the deal." The election is not only the closing but the "deal" itself -- as none other than John McCain keeps reminding us. There is no deal to close right now. Thomas Dewey thought he'd "closed the deal" only to discover the next morning that Harry Truman hadn't shown up at the closing. You don't "close" on a house or other financial transaction until you do. Until all the lawyers are paid all that money, until the deed is in your hand, until that hand and all the other hands are shaken, all the documents signed and witnessed. With just about as much logical plausibility, one could say that the sun hasn't closed the deal on rising tomorrow. And anyway, Rove is courting bad luck with this way of talking about the election. Look what happened to the last person who publicly asked about Obama, "Why can't he close the deal?"