Democratic Underground

If You Like How George W. Bush Ran the Texas Rangers, Then You Will Love How He Runs the Country
July 19, 2001
by Richard Prasad

Some of you may not know this, but before he was selected President by the kingmakers that call themselves the Supreme Court, George W. Bush was part owner of the Texas Rangers. What he did for the Rangers, he is now doing for the country. While owner of the Rangers, he lived by the strategy that a good offense is the best defense, he built a team that was an offensive juggernaut, featuring superstars like Juan Gonzales, Rafael Palmiero and Ivan Rodriguez. But he forgot that home runs, as pretty as they look on highlight films, don't win baseball games. Baseball games are won with pitching and defense.

So he learned the wrong lesson from baseball and immediately went on the offensive as President, a good offense is the best defense he thought. He governed as if he had a mandate, and a conservative mandate at that. No such mandate existed, either in the popular vote, or the electoral college, but he pressed on anyway. He passed the tax cut, but at a huge cost to himself and his party. He threatened Vermont senator Jim Jeffords in such a heavy handed political way, for voting against his 1.6 trillion dollar tax cut, that Jeffords left the Republican party and cost the Republicans their razor thin Senate majority. Bush forgot the lessons of baseball, defense wins, and by governing so far to the right in his first months, he did not defend against a defection in his own party.

The other programs that Bush dutifully trotted out SDI, school vouchers, Faith Based initiative, an environmental policy that would make the Third World glad they live in the Third World. All of these policies energize the base of the republican party, but scare away moderates in droves. Inshort these policies are not a good offense, they are just plain offensive to most voters. Bill Clinton was successful because he was able to co-opt issues like crime and welfare reform from the republicans and still make the Republicans seem like extremists, which of course most Republicans are. George W Bush does not have the political skill or finesse to pull this off.

Another lesson George Bush learned from baseball is the importance of the Latino influence. Many of his best players were Latino, the aforementioned Juan Gonzales, Rafael Palmiero, and Ivan Rodriguez. But again Bush made mistakes in baseball. He traded away a Latin ballplayer named Sammy Sosa to the Cubs, and Sosa has gone on to become one of the most prolific home run hitters in baseball, and a fan favorite.

He has made serious miscalculations in trying to improve his standing with the Latino community. Bush thought that nominating Hispanics like Al Gonzales (no relation to Juan) to become white house council will please Hispanics. But he has done far more damage to himself with Hispanics with his missteps than with his successes. His nomination of Linda Chavez as labor secretary was an unmitigated disaster. When it was learned that Ms. Chavez had nanny problems, Bush simply cut Chavez loose, not wanting to expend any political capital on her. This should have sent a signal to Hispanics that Bush is not willing to fight for Hispanics or their issues.

Then there's the issue of Vieques. Vieques is one of the islands that make up Puerto Rico and the Navy has been using the island as a bombing range. Most republicans scoffed at the protests by Al Sharpton and Robert Kennedy Jr, but some Republicans, like George Pataki, and Rudolph Giuliani were against the bombing, if only because they realized the importance of the Puerto Rican vote in New York. Then after one meeting with political guru Karl Rove, Bush announced his new plan on Vieques. He would stop the bombing in 2 years. This was a compromise that angered everyone. Puerto Ricans wanted the bombing stopped immediately, someone had already died from having a bomb dropped on them and there were reports surfacing about health and environmental concerns from continued bombing. The Navy wanted the bombing to go on indefinately. Also Bush angered conservative senators by not consulting with them on this issue. All in all he handled this issue badly.

But most importantly, if Bush wants to impress Hispanic voters - he should stop speaking Spanish.

Another lesson that was lost on Bush from his baseball days was his team's inability to win the big game. As good as the Rangers were during the regular season, they always lost in the playoffs and they always lost to the New York Yankees. Bush apparently learning nothing from the team he once owned, lost New York State big to Al Gore in the Presidential election of 2000. This uncovers another fundamental problem with the Bush presidency and candidacy in 2004. Just as his baseball team couldn't win the big game, the Bush political team cannot win the big states. California, New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois all went big for Al Gore. This means that Bush will have to add a few more states to his column if he wants to win in 2004. His policies do not show wide appeal with voters in those big states, so he must rethink his policies, if only for political survival.

On the other hand, the Democrats task is relatively simple. If they run a moderate like John Edwards of North Carolina, or Evan Byah of Indiana, they can win states or regions that traditionally vote for Bush. That thought must keep W up at night. No, sorry - nothing keeps W up at night.

George W. Bush should be glad that politics isn't baseball, if it were he would have struck out many times already. But he's still up there swinging and all we're left with is the pain of a foul tip in the groin.


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