Two Fall Classics

Clint Leibolt

August 1, 2005

In 2004, Americans were graced with two fall classics—the World Series and the Presidential election. The drama featured both returning names, like George W. Bush and Curt Schilling, as well as new surprises, like the Boston Red Sox and Michael Moore. Yet, as so many times is the case, new twists and turns led to the same old ending.

George W. Bush who played some baseball and owned a portion of the Texas Rangers certainly showed that he had learned a few things from the game. He did his job and won the election with the authoritative resolve of a pitcher, and an all—time great one at that. It is no surprise that President Bush garnered the support of pitching greats like Nolan Ryan and Curt Schilling. They certainly saw his solid character transform into a big election victory that left the Democrats standing bewildered at the plate.

When I watched the World Series, I was struck, as I always am, at the huge gap that seems to exist between pitchers and position players. Pitchers are controlled, steady and rarely show emotion. Their stern glare in at the plate shows that they mean business. The contrast to them is the showy home—run slugger. After a strikeout, they make a big display of disgust, and they trot proudly and pump their fists after a big hit. Manny Ramirez skips to first base after smacking a run scoring single and throws his bat after failure. George W. Bush put on a masterful pitching performance. He resolutely stuck to his game plan of reminding Americans that he was a wartime President defending American security. Likewise, he threw the fastball right where John Kerry could not hit it: national defense. Bush found Kerry’s weak spot, his impotent record of military weakness, and he struck Kerry out time and again on this issue. Kerry, as hitters often do, attempted to make at—the—plate adjustments to match Bush’s fastball. He tried to mask thirty years of his anti—military and anti—America record behind tough rhetoric and several votes. But old habits at the plate are hard to break, and Americans saw Kerry going back to his old ways as he said terrorism was a nuisance and tried to explain how he voted for and against the same bill.

Bush resembled a pitching ace that controls the game from the start, while Kerry was simply a hitter constantly trying to adjust. President Bush framed the whole election with his rhetoric and his issues. He spoke tough and plainly in a common—sense way that made it difficult for foul play. Bush dictated the game with his dominant control of the key War on Terror. Kerry, was simply overmatched by Bush’s war record, had to attempt to divert the game to another issue, and he failed. Constantly chasing Bush from behind left Kerry in no position to frame the election on his own turf. Kerry’s only hope was that Bush would make a crucial mistake and hang a fastball. In hindsight, it seems that Kerry was completely at the mercy of the President, and when Bush did not stumble the door slammed shut on Kerry’s dreams.

John Kerry proved he was just a showy hitter who could not stand up to good pitching. He sucked up the headlines with sound bites and heroic, although sometimes fabricated, athletic triumphs. Every move he made was supposed to be exciting because the media seemed to think that every time he swung the bat, a home run was coming. In fact, Kerry did get a few hits during the campaign. The most notable hit was his victory in the first debate. His predictable reaction was gloating which is a typical reaction of many athletes of the Kerry mold. He took his big head into the next two debates where he, at best, scored a draw, and where he really probably lost the race. Like a true ace, Bush finished strong and closed the election with a commanding victory that left no doubt about who won.

The best team always wins in October and the best candidate in November. Fortunately for President Bush, he will never have to run again after his four years are over. This may be a blessing to him, but in 2008, I think Republicans will be sorely missing their Mr. November.

Clint Leibolt is a sophomore from Perrysville, Ohio, majoring in Political Science and Business Administration.