I've seen that blank look from someone who doesn't know football.
"I don't follow it. Don't understand the rules -- just teams in different uniforms."
I see the same look these days from some about impeachment.
"I don't follow it. Don't understand it. Just two parties going at it."
Just parties. Two sets of uniforms. Just a game.
Yep, that describes it -- like, oh, just armies on the black sands of Iwo Jima, on the rolling Gettysburg terrain. Who understands that war stuff?
Then again: A whole bunch of us are quite versant on football: stats, personnel, schedule. Ask for the depth chart of that favorite team.
But politics? Governing? A whole bunch of the same people quickly say they're out of their depth.
With wonder, social commentator Noam Chomsky has observed people discussing sports with "quite a high degree of thought and analysis. On the other hand, when I hear people talk about, say, international affairs or domestic problems, it's at a level of superficiality that's beyond belief."
Most often when one hears the claim, "I don't keep up with that stuff" when the stuff is politics, the follow-up response is that the person doesn't trust politicians, any of 'em, and the two major parties are one and the same.
Easy to say for one who doesn't keep up with that stuff.
One and the same? Yes. And Ohio State and Appalachian State are in the same conference.
Never in my memory have the two parties been so distinct.
The Republican Party has chained itself to the ankles of a lumbering agent of chaos who tweets like a second-grader, flaunts ethics and can't spell "accountability."
The Democratic Party increasingly is earning its stripes as a reflection of a diverse nation, not just with people of color but people of varied sexual orientation.
To get the GOP nomination and hold the South, Donald Trump, a one-time adherent of abortion rights and gay rights, decided against both.
The Democratic Party remains the vanguard on behalf of both.
Trump, who at one time said he supported universal health care, has been devoted as president, along with his Republican foot soldiers, to yanking health coverage out from under millions.
From FDR through LBJ to Obama and Pelosi, the Democratic Party has been a foe of a philosophy that treats proper health care as a hood ornament.
Trump and the Republicans, harping all the way about the deficit, in 2017 mortgaged the future to award tax cuts to people who didn't need them. And look now – a deficit that dwarfs that left behind by Trump's predecessor.
Republicans talk a good game about budget austerity, but they are far more inclined to award themselves tax benefits, leaving the balance of payments and debits further out of whack.
Again, the differences between the parties could not be more glaring. And so it is with the impeachment proceedings.
Trump was caught using military aid to bribe a foreign nation under siege by Russian forces and Trump BFF Vladimir Putin. The Republican defense of this outrage has been a ground blizzard of obfuscation.
Americans are entitled to focus on Sunday's game or Macy's balloons. They are entitled to think the impeachment process is "just politics."
But they can't say these things don't matter. Those who assailed Iwo's beaches and sprawled across Gettysburg's fields didn't.
As Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, "As soon as any man says of the state, 'What does it matter to me?' the state may be given up for lost."
Sure, but what did Rousseau have to say about football games lost?