W. Bush: The Sammy Sosa of Presidents
By Pab Sungenis
Considering George W. Bush's love of baseball, it seems oddly
appropriate to use recent developments in what was once non-ironically
known as America's National Pastime as a metaphor for recent
developments down in Foggy Bottom. If you, dear readers, will
grant me this indulgence, I will paint a picture (perhaps
not quite worthy of Norman Rockwell, but in a similar vein)
of Mighty Casey striking out.
For those who have been living under a rock for the past
several years (and who could blame you), Sammy Sosa of the
Chicago Cubs is one of baseball's most famous home run hitters.
Some have credited him and fellow slugger Mark McGwire (who
broke Roger Maris' long-standing record for homers) with reviving
interest in the game. Baseball fans like myself have lionized
Sosa for his achievements.
And now, we have learned, it may all have been a lie.
This past week, Sosa was caught using a corked bat in a
game For those of you who have better things to do than keep
up with sporting terminology, a "corked bat" is a baseball
bat that has been doctored, usually having its solid core
removed (or never there to begin with) and stuffed with a
lighter material such as cork (although one player in the
1970's used superballs to cork his bat). The result is a bat
which is much lighter and easier to swing. Since the power
of a hit ball comes mainly from the speed at which the bat
is travelling when it is struck, balls hit by corked bats
can travel much further, sometimes up to thirty additional
feet, which in the case of a true slugger is often enough
to put what would have been an easy fly-out in the outfield
into the bleachers.
Sammy's bat split (as bats are wont to do after much use
and abuse) in the first inning last Tuesday, revealing a cork
center. The sound that came from the bat's disintegration
closely mimicked the sound of fans' illusions shattering.
The king of home runs was found to have been a cheater. While
Sosa claimed to have only kept the corked bat around to put
on a show for fans who attend batting practice - never intending
to use it in a real game - all of his achievements were immediately
called into question. Those records that Sosa had broken would
forever be covered by a veil of suspicion. If he used that
bat in one game, how many other times did he "accidentally"
whip out the crowd pleaser and get away with it? How many
of those record-shattering home runs were the result of what
is, to be blunt, cheating? We may never know, and some will
automatically assume that they all were.
Baseball is a game of rules (one reason many people, including
myself, still love it so), and Sammy has been suspended for
eight games. He is appealing the suspension, saying that it
is excessive (and, some have hinted, racially inspired). But
eight games is the average for a player caught using a corked
bat to be suspended; recent suspensions have ranged from 7
to 10. True fans know and understand, remembering the lessons
of Shoeless Joe. When a player cheats, you have to toss him
out of the game.
Now, let us turn away from the world of baseball and into
the world of spin and warmaking. Like baseball, it is a grand
and glorious game, but with much graver consequences than
being sent down to the minors. When mistakes are made in this
game, people die. Innocent people on both sides. And this
time it's George Bush who has been caught with the corked
Revelations are coming fast and furious, in every media
outlet except the American corporate-controlled one, about
how the Bush Administration "puffed up" intelligence reports
on alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Photos of trucks,
with a variety of possible uses, were labelled "mobile biological
weapons lab." Thousands of numbers were floated, claiming
to be tonnage of sarin and VX nerve gases. Aluminum tubes
suddenly became key ingredients in atomic bombs. We were informed
that within 45 minutes, Saddam could have our troops and Iraq's
neighbors inundated with bioweapons. We had to act immediately,
or it was going to be too late. Saddam had these weapons,
and was going to use them. Never mind the experts who said
they found nothing. Our soliders would go in and uncover them.
Now, after months of searching, we find that there were
no mobile weapons labs, just trucks. We have combed the nation
from top to bottom and found no sarin or VX. Just as Freud
said that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, sometimes an
aluminum tube is just an aluminum tube. We've even found out
that Colin Powell, whose speech to the U.N. convinced many
Americans (although not many of our allies) of the need for
preemptive war against Saddam Hussein, characterized much
of the evidence he was told to present (a good deal of which
came from a plagiarized college paper) as "bullshit." Bush
and Cheney hit the American public upside the head with a
baseball bat of imminent doom, and we've now discovered that
that bat was hollow; its core (Iraqi WMD) just wasn't there.
No one can blame Bush for having this material handy. After
all, just like Sammy Sosa, he needed a crowd pleaser. He needed
something to let him show off in front of the people who came
out to support him. But, like Sammy, he made the mistake of
pulling the crowd pleaser out during a game, when he should
have been playing by the rules. In Sammy's case, the only
people who got hurt were a few outfielders who may have had
the satisfaction of catching a ball hit by the home run king.
In Bush's, however, the damage is much more severe. American
soldiers died for what they believed was a just cause, but
was just lies and distortions. Our foreign relations have
been hurt, perhaps fatally, over our all-but unilateral decision
to make war based on this corked evidence. Islamic fundamentalists
are poised to take over the "liberated" Iraq and launch a
reign of terror that would make the Taliban look like a gay
pride parade. And let's not even begin to discuss Iraqi civilian
Just as baseball is a game of rules, we are a nation of
laws. Bush lied to Congress and to the U.N., not to mention
the American people That was called perjury when Bill Clinton
did it over much more trivial matters, matters where no one
died. It still is, and it's time that the American people
remember the lesson of Shoeless Joe in this grand, glorious,
and lethal game of spin and war. When a player cheats, you
have to toss him out of the game.
Pab Sungenis owns a movie theater, hosts a nationally-syndicated
radio show, and was just re-elected as a Democratic Committeman,
more than tripling the number of votes he got last time.