Joe the Optimist
For Biden, hope springs eternal.
Updated Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2007, at 10:45 AM
As a result, Koos' platform is essentially a composite of his opponents' stances. Like Joe Biden, he wants a soft-partitioned Iraq. Like Hillary Clinton, he supports a national-service academy. And like Dennis Kucinich, he advocates a universal, single-payer health-care system. He's the Voltron of presidential candidates.
Does this mean Koos is once again embarking on a selfish, self-indulgent pursuit? Perhaps. But he said he's also running to try and convince his friends and family to pay attention to the elections. When he tells people he's running for president, he gets to discuss current events and politics with relative strangers. Plus, he said, running for president is "an awful lot of fun." Some might call it a midlife crisis, but Koos thinks of it as a boyhood dream.
Rudy's Sinker: Politics is about compromise. Voters know this, and politicians know they know it. That's why they'll often bend their position to accommodate a new situation without paying a political price.
Sports, however, is not about compromise. It's not about sacrificing now so you can win later. It's about winning now, later, and always. It's starkly Manichaean—the one arena where you can say, "You're with us or against us," and no one will accuse you of being overly dramatic.
Rudy Giuliani, of all people, should understand this. But by announcing in Boston yesterday that he would be rooting for the Red Sox in the World Series, he joins Hillary Clinton in the league of athletic opportunists he so roundly criticized last month. "Don't you respect me for telling you the truth that I'm a Yankees fan?" he asked a crowd in Chicago after Clinton said that she'd "alternate" sides in a Yankees-Cubs match-up. Well, whatever respect he commanded then, he has squandered now. The New York tabs are calling him a "Red Coat" and a "Traitor" for abandoning his home team. And believe it or not, it still doesn't look like he'll be carrying Massacusetts.
Giuliani's rationalization only made the offense worse: "I'm an American League fan, and my tradition has been to root for the American League team, particularly if it's a team that beats the Yankees. And in this case, you won the division and we lost. Somehow it makes me feel better if the team that was ahead of the Yankees wins the World Series, because then I feel like, well, we're not that bad."
Et tu, Rudy?
Barack Obama, playing off Giuliani's gaffe, told a Boston crowd he was a "principled sports fan" and supported the White Sox. But candidates should really avoid talking about sports altogether. For one thing, you're not likely to win votes from the people whose teams you praise. If anything, it comes off as pandering. But also, even a hint of ambiguity—the least bit of waffling—amounts to heresy. Giuliani's situational Red Sox fandom makes Romney's abortion flip-flopping look forgivable. He might as well have said he'd ask his lawyers. Let this be a lesson: Baseball is the one issue on which you can't be moderate. Giuliani picked the wrong time to act like one.
Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.
Photographs of: Cap Fendig courtesy Cap Fendig; screenshot of The Huffington Post.