Itís been more than 100 days since the inception of the Bush
sequel, and the press has been pondering what to make of the new
administration. Yet efforts to speak with profundity about the
Bush Presidency ring hollow, because no matter where you stand,
George W. Bush (hereafter W) and the gang have lived up to
There is a modesty and simplicity to the new President that I
enjoy. Really, I like it. Contrary to the methods of political
spinners, you know what W wants to do, you know heíll go about
it in a deliberate and low-key fashion, and youíll know that
heíll fight as much as he can but in the end heíll take what
he can get. Most of all, heíll be a good sport about it.
I donít want to infer that somehow Wís administration is
immune to errors or filled with angels. Still, what a refreshing
change! I remember one of the mantras during the time of
impeachment was "the need to talk about the issues!"
Well, politics has become placid again, so issues can take
center stage again for people who have an interest in them.
Politics isnít everything either, but you donít have to tell
W that. I would not be surprised if he wishes from time to time
that he could give the Presidency to his brother if the job of
Major League Baseball Commissioner became available. According
to an article by Gail Sheehy in Vanity Fair, W was lobbying hard
for the position before he ran for Governor in Texas. Had he
actually gotten the position as commissioner several years ago,
recent history would be quite different. Funny world.
The sport of baseball actually fits the Bush Presidency in many
respects. It is a pleasantly boring sport, or boringly pleasant,
or just boring or pleasant depending on your point of view. Bush
has made such qualities the essence of his Presidency thus far.
It is the only sport I know of that not only invites but demands
contemplation while playing or watching it. W has political
instincts that demonstrate that he has contemplated the
"big picture" and his role in it. He may not have a
single-minded dedication to political issues, and sometimes I
think such ardor may help him gain political mileage. Maybe not
and Iím wrong. But either way, Wís appeal is a product of
his ability to convey an easygoing spirit while remaining
steadfast to first principles. Indeed, the former makes the
latter more likely.
Baseball players, when they make a mistake, are given
responsibility for errors that are recorded for all eternity.
Similarly, Wís errors have been available for everyone to see.
His words occasionally wage war against the English language,
and provoke quizzical looks or moments of levity. I actually
find these mistakes appealing in the sense that his rhetorical
skills will never be used to pull the wool over the publicís
eyes. These occasional errors may derive from dyslexia, or from
occasional self-doubts about whether he belongs at the apex of
the worldís power structure, but they give W a humility that
His critics will seize upon these mistakes in an effort to
ridicule him, but that says more about Wís critics than about
W. People who want to control you and knock you down will seize
on real or imagined faults in order to put you on the defensive.
Then they will use that as a pretext to assert their own view of
what you should or should not be. Saying "up yours" to
this type of aggression is one way of dealing with it, but
living well is the best revenge. W has succeeded in making too
many speeches too many times in order to be described as
incompetent. Like any baseball player, Wís errors alone do not
demonstrate that he is bad at what he does.
A baseball season requires patience and the ability to prepare
for the long-term. His predecessor had a Nietzschean will to
power that blinded him to other concerns, but W himself is
intent on getting things done that will mark his legacy, not
making splashes that leave no trace over time.
Though baseball is often a languid pastime, there are moments of
great intensity in which you have to be prepared and act
decisively. Bushís ability to seize the moment and to grasp
whatís important was proven in his Inaugural Address. He
described the American experience in part as "the story of
a slave-holding society that became a symbol of freedom."
It is significant that he referred to that sordid part of our
history as well as our efforts to transcend our past, which must
continue if the American ideal is to mean anything. His desire
to "be a uniter, not a divider" is a genuine one.
I do differ with the Bush Administration on a few issues like
defense spending; but then I differ with the GOP, my party of
choice, on those items as well. I recognize that I canít blame
the Bush Administration for taking policy positions that squares
with the Republican Partyís consensus.
On other issues like tax cuts, education reform and social
security privatization, I like the general direction in which
the administration is going, I just wish it moved much faster.
Then again, the country does not appear ready to embrace such
substantial policy shifts that I would seek at this time, so I
canít complain about that either.
So Wís administration moves along, bringing long the
supporters of his father, who occasionally wink in solidarity
with the Rockefeller Republicans, and the supporters of
President Reagan, who made up the movement conservatives that
changed the Republican Party and country forever. W and his
people will balance these two groups, and nudge public policy
slightly to the right. What these piecemeal efforts will bring
is an open question, but at least politics is sounder and saner
once again. Kind of like watching a baseball game, which proves
that there are some things right with the world.
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