Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The first game of the baseball playoffs is about to start. As I think about the playoffs, and about the Harriet Miers nomination, I realize I'm actually glad that President Bush is in the White House instead of still the owner of a baseball team. If he owned, say, the St. Louis Cardinals, who open their playoff series against the Padres in about 20 minutes, I'd be worried about who'd be taking the field.

Perhaps we'd see this pre-game press conference, much like Bush's press conference this morning:

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yesterday, I nominated an outstanding individual to start the first game of the playoffs. Over the past three decades, Dick Cheney has built a stellar record of accomplishment. He's been a model of service to his country and to our citizens. I've known him for more than 10 years. I know his character. He's a man of principle and deep conviction. He shares my philosophy that the high fastball is a tough pitch for hitters to hit.

QUESTION: Mr. President, of all of the people in the United States you had to choose from, is Dick Cheney really the most qualified to pitch in the playoffs?

BUSH: Yes. Otherwise, I wouldn't have chosen him.

QUESTION: But last year, you chose Roger Clemens, who came to the field with a stellar record of accomplishment, years of experience, and the unparalleled qualifications to be sure the team had the best possible chance to win the game. And this time, you're going with your Vice President, a man we have no evidence can actually throw a major-league-quality fastball.

BUSH: Look -- please, please. I've known Dick Cheney for over a decade. I've worked with him. He's a man of principle and character. He's highly intelligent. He's been a pioneer. He's an enormously accomplished person who's incredibly bright.

QUESTION: But he's not a major league pitcher. Think of all the other choices you had. Chris Carpenter. Jason Marquis. Jeff Suppan. All key parts of the Cardinals rotation.

BUSH: Please let me finish. Dick Cheney knows the kind of pitcher I'm looking for. After all, he was a part of the process that selected Roger Clemens last time. He knows what I'm interested in. He's a fine choice. He shares my philosophy.

QUESTION: Mr. President, you've also selected to replace Albert Pujols at first base with Karen Hughes. Can you explain that decision?

BUSH: I know Karen Hughes well enough to be able to say that she's not going to change; that in the ninth inning she'll be the same person, with the same philosophy about holding the runner, and fielding ground balls, that she is today. She'll have more experience, she'll have been a ballplayer, but nevertheless, her philosophy won't change. And that's important to me. That was important to me when I picked Roger Clemens. It's important for me in picking Karen Hughes.

QUESTION: But there are hundreds and hundreds of well-qualified baseball players out there. Isn't it odd that you'd find the most qualified pitchers and hitters in the world to be the people in the office down the hall from you?

BUSH: One of the most interesting ideas I heard was, "Why don't you pick somebody who doesn't know how to play baseball? Why don't you reach outside the -- I think one advisor said -- the playing field? And I thought it was an interesting idea. And I thought long and hard about it. And so recognizing that Dick Cheney at pitcher, and Karen Hughes at first base, and my mother, Barbara Bush, at catcher, would bring not only their own unique expertise but a fresh approach, I chose them. And they'll be a really good team.

QUESTION: Some baseball fans have said you did not pick players like Pujols and Jim Edmonds and Larry Walker to start because you shied away from a battle with the Padres. Is there any truth to that?

BUSH: Well, I just described to you why I picked them. I'll be glad to go over it again if you like. They share my baseball philosophy. They are extraordinary people. Paul Wolfowitz at second base is an excellent choice. The decision as to whether or not there'll be a fight is up to the Padres. They get to decide whether or not the quality of play will decide the result of the game.

QUESTION: What about charges of cronyism?

BUSH: I just answered. I picked the best people I could find. People know we're close. But you've got to understand, because of our closeness, I know the character of these people. It's one thing to say a person can hit a baseball -- and that may be seen by some as important. But what also matters are the intangibles. To me, a person's strength of character counts a lot. I know their hearts. I know the heart of my new shortstop, Margaret Spellings. As a result of my friendship with Dick Cheney, I know his heart. That's more important than "talent" and "experience."

QUESTION: Have you ever discussed with Dick Cheney his view on the slider? Or have you gleaned from his comments his views on that subject?

BUSH: I have no litmus test. It's also something I've consistently said. There is no litmus test. What matters to me is his general baseball philosophy. What does he believe the proper role of the pitcher is relative to the other people on the field. And so there's no litmus test.

QUESTION: You said a few minutes ago that you're proud of your choices, but there was a lot of hand-wringing when you made the annoucement yesterday about Dick Cheney. Peter Gammons said he was depressed and demoralized, and Jayson Stark said it was a pick out of weakness. What do you say to these critics specifically? And how can you convince them that Cheney is as talented as closer Jason Isringhausen?

BUSH: I guess I'll start over. I hope they're listening. First, he's a man of enormous accomplishment. He will not legislate from the mound. I also remind them that I think it's important to bring somebody from outside the playing field, somebody that hasn't been on the mound. And, therefore, there's not a lot of statistics for people to look at. I know his character, I know his strength, I know his talent, and I know he's going to be a fine pitcher.

Thank you, and I look forward to the game.