June 23, 2004

Talking Politics... and Sports

Today's Musical Selection: "Blues Beach" by Steely Dan

Hey there, everyone! Today we display a stunning lack of originality in hitting two of my favorite subjects, politics and sports. Very male sorts of things to talk about, no? You can almost feel the dark wood paneling of the Elks Lodge closing in on you. So fire up a stogie and away we go!

Let's begin by revisiting the Jack Ryan mess. The candidate himself held a press conference yesterday at which he demonstrated an impressive skill for shooting himself in the foot. First he stood by the denial of the charges he gave during the divorce hearing. Then he said that, not that the charges are true or anything, but if they were, it's not that bad:

She says three times over eight years [of marriage], we went to places that she felt uncomfortable. That's the worst of it. I think almost any spouse would take that as, "Gosh, if that's the worst someone can say about me after seeing me live my life for eight years . . ." then people say, "Gosh, the guy's lived a pretty clean life."

Then, in a feat of verbal gymnastics that would make Bill Clinton blush, he argued that he did not mislead the state GOP chair when she asked him if there was embarrassing information in his divorce files: "I don't think the phrase, `I don't think so,' is misleading." Oh, of course not. He didn't mean "I don't think so" meaning "no," he meant "I don't think so" meaning "yes." (If this is his outlook on the language, perhaps the whole thing is easily explained. Perhaps Jack Ryan asked Mrs. Ryan if she wanted to go to a sex club, and she said, "I don't think so.")

At any rate, the Republican Party is slowly backing away from Jack Ryan, smiling and nodding and saying "We're right behind you, Jack," as they nervously peer behind them, looking for the exits. Considering that, in addition to this scandal, Ryan is under fire for having a staffer stalk his opponent, Barack Obama, all day with a video camera, I think the GOP would be wise to disassociate themselves from this particular train wreck.

At any rate, my man Frinklin weighs in on whether sex scandals should ruin candidates:

Hanky-Pankydom is never a reason not to vote for someone in my eyes. I think these so-called scandals highlight the backwards ways Americans still view sex, not any personal failing. My problem with Clinton was never that he got some, it was that he constantly lied and disassembled about said getting.

This is a popular view, one rather similar to my own. The sex is far less troublesome than the lying. Particularly in this case, and particularly against an opponent who has already demonstrated that the truth will set you free.

Did you know that Barack Obama did cocaine as a teenager? You didn't? Well, why isn't this a cause celebre? Call the papers! Find the source and splash the whole sordid story in all media!

The reason that this hasn't happened is that the source is Obama himself. He wrote a book which laid out the story in some detail. All the fun was gone for the news media, what with the story being old news, and so Obama has gone largely unscathed by this. Once again, we see that Ryan is a dumbass.

However, there is one caveat to this sex-is-okay-but-lying-isn't story. Take Bill Clinton's case as an example. I'm sure he wasn't at all eager to reveal the truth about the Lewinsky story. But he had one particularly powerful reason not to tell: he'd have to explain it to his wife. And Hillary does not strike me as the sort of woman who would react to a confession of infidelity with a shrug and a smile. And it's not as though he could cheerfully confess to the media and still keep it from her, since I'm sure Hillary watches the news. What was Clinton to do? (Other than the obvious -- keep his zipper shut -- but you can't undo what's already been done.)

See, this is the problem in figuring out what to make of all this: Infidelity always involves lying. Unless we expect politicians to run home and confess their infidelities immediately after commission, this is unavoidable.

Of course, this doesn't apply to Ryan, who is already divorced and had nothing to fear but public humiliation and the end of his political career, which appears to have been his primary concern. If we're going to find fault with Ryan, we should fault his overwhelming sense of personal ambition, which is hardly a first among the political set.

Frinklin, however, finds something else to fault him for:

My biggest problem with Jack Ryan, other than he might well torpedo GOP chances in Illinois, is that he's enough of a chowderhead to screw things up with Jeri Ryan in the first place. Dude, you're the guy who gets to have sex with Seven of Nine every night. Her: Smokin' hot Hollywood babe. You: Irritating Frat-Boy Wanna-be Politician type. You're lucky to get her in the first place, don't mess it up. If she doesn't want to do public S&M, move on, and remember that every straight guy in America short of Brad Pitt would GLADLY take your place.

Amen and double amen to that, Frinklin. Let us keep our eye on the ball here. As a man, you have to dope-slap Jack Ryan for having a golden opportunity such as this, and screwing it up. If you find yourself dating/consorting with/married to a woman of this caliber, you don't go around trying to force her into public bondage. You get down on your knees every night, thank God for giving you an opportunity you do not and can never deserve, and go on from there. I'll follow Frinklin in quoting the great BB: "Whadda maroon."

Speaking of politics, the other night I was discussing the election with my friend, the estimable Ms. Wizard, an MIT-trained engineer. I was surprised to hear her say that she was planning to vote for Bush. Since Kerry figures to be most appealing to serious-minded intellectuals such as Ms. Wizard, I had to ask why. She explained, "Bush won my vote when he gave that speech calling for expanding the space program. I think that space exploration is very important, and Bush is serious about it." I pointed out that Bush's inspiring speech was not followed by any actual action, in terms of funding. She replied, "Doesn't matter. Bush is interested in space, and Kerry isn't. That's it."

Argh. In my role as occasional Kerry proselytizer, the resistance I receive usually comes more in the form of "His speeches put me to sleep" or "He looks like an undertaker." This is a new one by me. Senator, if you're reading this, give a speech about the space program!

Switching gears now from politics to sports, Frinklin weighs in on being Matt Bush vs. Darko:

I'd still want to be Matt Bush, simply because Darko is the biggest goober in America.

Perhaps so, but Darko is now a very rich goober with a championship ring. So he's got that going for him. Meanwhile, Bush isn't rich until the check clears, and for now he's just an idiot in jail. Either way, both of these gentlemen are on their way to pissing away opportunity many of us would sacrifice years off our lives to get. So a dope slap for both of them.

How about those Devil Rays! It's 12 wins in a row now after last night's 5-1 win over Toronto. Is there any stopping this juggernaut? I can only imagine the riots going on in Tampa right now over the news. Shuffleboard courts will be burning tonight!

Seriously, this is a nice first step for a young team looking to make the breakthrough to respectability. Obviously it won't last, but Lou Piniella's starting to get the kids believing in themselves, and that counts for a lot. I'll pencil Tampa in for 75 wins, which could well allow them to finish ahead of Baltimore. Who'd have thunk it?

On the Expos relocation front, Northern Virginia is the latest group to make its move, announcing plans for a fully-funded stadium near Dulles Airport. Non-Washingtonians might assume this is a good location... after all, the airport must be part of a development hub, right?

Actually, it isn't. Dulles is an hour away from downtown D.C., and surrounded primarily by cookie-cutter mansions and blah shopping centers with gargantuan parking lots. It's not accessible by Metrorail, and it's a brutal drive during rush hour (which is when fans would be trying to get to most games). It's basically a kowtow to Peter Angelos' ridiculous contention that Washington is part of Baltimore's market. And for this reason, plus the promise of full funding, I found the prospect worrying. Marc Fisher cut the plans to shreds yesterday, which I figure he wouldn't have done if it weren't a serious competitor.

I shared my concerns with Papa Shaft, and he told me not to worry. Everyone's suddenly coming up with impressive-sounding plans, he said, because DC's so close to getting the team that it's clearly time for the other markets to put their best foot forward. While everyone else is planning, he says, DC is acting. Or, to use his great and colorful phrase, "The yip dogs always make the most noise when the pit bull's busy." His analysis strikes me right. And I hope it is.

Finally, fans of ESPN's Bill Simmons will be glad to know that he's now got his own Page 2 page. Will success spoil the Sports Guy? Hard to say, but we'll find out. Way to go, Bill.

That's all for today. Something else tomorrow!

Posted by Fred at June 23, 2004 05:56 PM
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