Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Clipper and The Kid

Is this a wonderful picture or what? Besides being two of the greatest players ever, Ted Williams and Joe Dimaggio had two of the greatest nicknames ever: The Splendid Splinter and The Yankee Clipper. And Yankees fans? I hate to break the news to you, but the Splinter was Teddy Ballgame a long time before Don Mattingly was Donnie Ballgame. Anyway, with Ted and Joe, you're looking at two of the sweetest swings ever, here and here. And here's the last at bat of Ted's brilliant career. The guy knew how to make an exit. (Note the empty seats, an unknown sight for today's Red Sox fan: The last 388 games in Fenway Park have been sellouts.)

We're also interested in entrances at this blog, so I'm proud to offer the first video of The Revelators, winners of Seattle University's Epic Rock Contest. That's P.K. on drums; he also wrote the first and last songs. The video is in HD, so it takes a little while to load.

Last night, Senators Clinton and Obama debated for the final time before next Tuesday's primaries. By now, Clinton has an awfully steep hill to climb, and she has to do it while walking a tightrope. She tried mightily last night and once again showed off her command of policy. Her problem now is that voters aren't buying what she's selling, and she's understandably reluctant to go negative. Obama simply refused to rise to the bait that she and Tim Russert laid out; in fact, he tended to come off well in these instances by falling back on his his equable temperament. (This will come in handy against John "Mount" McCain.)

Early on, this exchange may have hurt Clinton:

MR. WILLIAMS: Senator, as you two --

SEN. CLINTON: You know, Brian -- Brian, wait a minute. I've got -- this is too important.

You know, Senator Obama has a mandate. He would enforce the mandate by requiring parents to buy insurance for their children.

SEN. OBAMA: This is true.

SEN. CLINTON: That is the case.

If you have a mandate, it has to be enforceable. So there's no difference here.

SEN. OBAMA: No, there is a difference.

SEN. CLINTON: It's just that I know that parents who get sick have terrible consequences for their children. So you can insure the children, and then you've got the bread-winner who can't afford health insurance or doesn't have it for him or herself.

And in fact, it would be as though Franklin Roosevelt said let's make Social Security voluntary -- that's -- you know, that's -- let's let everybody get in it if they can afford it -- or if President Johnson said let's make Medicare voluntary.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, let me --

SEN. CLINTON: What we have said is that at the point of employment, at the point of contact with various government agencies, we would have people signed up. It's like when you get a 401(k), it's your employer. The employer automatically enrolls you. You would be enrolled.

The content of the argument aside, every boyfriend or husband who thinks he can't get a word in edgewise reacted negatively to this exchange. I point this out only to observe that the male-female dynamics at work exacerbate Senator Clinton's difficulties. She has to make her case, she has to be heard. But she also has to be just about impossibly subtle at the same time or she awakes male fears and prejudices. Were the shoe on the other foot -- with Obama attempting to come from behind -- race dynamics would be more in play. He would need to be heard without stirring latent (and not so latent) bigotry about aggressive blacks. Certainly, white male candidates don't have to factor these things into their calculations. We may have come a long way, but we still have a ways to go.

Speaking of blustery white males, last night Tim Russert wore proudly his crown as King of Stupid Questions and Ridiculous Hypotheticals:

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Clinton, if the Iraqis said I'm sorry, we're not happy with this arrangement; if you're not going to stay in total and defend us, get out completely; they are a sovereign nation, you would listen?

[Then comes the following exchange, which must have sorely Clinton's patience, not to mention her laugh reflex.]

SEN. CLINTON: You know, Tim, you ask a lot of hypotheticals. And I believe that what's --

MR. RUSSERT: But this is reality.

[Later on:]
RUSSERT: He's [Russian president Dmitri Medvedev] 42 years old, he's a former law professor. He is Mr. Putin's campaign manager. He is going to be the new president of Russia. And if he says to the Russian troops, you know what, why don't you go help Serbia retake Kosovo, what does President Obama do?

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Obama, one of the things in a campaign is that you have to react to unexpected developments. [I'm expecting some newsworthy revelation like "Raul Castro has resigned" or "Dick Cheney shot another one of his best friends." Instead, we're treated to the following stupid question:] On Sunday, the headline in your hometown paper, Chicago Tribune: "Louis Farrakhan Backs Obama for President at Nation of Islam Convention in Chicago." Do you accept the support of Louis Farrakhan? [Russert then wastes several minutes on a political figure as marginal as Ralph Nader or Fred Thompson.]

Yeesh. How do these guys get their jobs?


Anonymous said...

In fact, Clinton puts herself at a disadvantage with everyone when she argues the way she has been: I'm female and a fan, but even I am beginning to become embarrased by the STYLE, not content, of her arguments.
It smacks of desperation, and is making me more receptive to Obama's equanimity and apparent unflappability.
Thanks for the read!

Scrumpy's Baker said...

That Tim Russert guy drives me batty. Usually with those people if they aren't intelligent or interesting, you can at least count on a little eye candy. Alas, that is not the case.

Good old Grandpa Charlie's favorite ball player was Ted Williams. Anything that reminds me of Grandpa Charlie always makes me smile.