Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The List

Bill Quick has posted The List of reasons why he's not voting for Republicans this year. In the spirit of the list, I'm now offering The List of reasons not to vote for Derek Jeter for AL MVP.

  • He struck out 102 times. That's 102 times, over 10% of his plate appearances, when he couldn't even put the ball in play. Pathetic.

  • He was personally responsible for over 300 outs for the Yankee offense. He made an out over 58% of the time that he went to the plate.

  • There were 13 times that he not only made an out for himself, he actually hit a ball that caused 2 outs for the team.

  • Home runs? 14. In over 700 plate appearances. That's right, only one more HR than GIDP. What kind of ratio is that? I mean, the season is 26 weeks long - he hit about 1 HR every other week. Why bother?

  • He had problems in the field, too. There were 15 errors, balls that any Major League Shortstop handles, but Jeter ended up booting them or throwing them away, and allowing a runner to reach where there should have been an out.

  • The errors are just the tip of the iceberg. Those are the balls he got to. How many did he miss? Yankee pitching allowed 1463 "hits" in 2006. Over 1000 of them could have been outs if a fielder had been positioned properly or had better range. The fact that they weren't is a scathing condemnation of Jeter, the acknowledged "leader" of the Yankees.

  • Speaking of "leading," here's the big point - he "led" his team to 67 losses in 2006. Why would anyone vote for him?






OK, that was fun. Obviously, it's a flawed analogy, but I think that there's truth there, too. The fact is, there's been an enormous amount of time and energy focused on what this congress has failed to do, and there are certainly some glaring failures. The lack of discipline in dealing with Federal spending and government growth is extremely discouraging. McCain-Feingold was an abomination, and shame on George Bush for signing it. The Medicare prescription drug entitlement was a bad idea. There have been any number of things that have been silly or irritating or wrong.

But you can't just say, "they haven't done everything I wanted - throw the bums out!" In the first place, there have been good things that would NEVER have happened with a Democratic Congress. The Bush Tax cuts, Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Alito. The Secure Fence Act. And there are bad things, many of them, that would have happened with a Democratic Congress, up to (and probably including) impeachment proceedings for the "lies" that "misled" America into the war in Iraq. It's important to recognize not only the flaws, which are glaring and blatant, but the strengths, which are sometimes less obvious.

In the second place, it's a fact that there are two choices here. One is that the Republicans, who haven't earned it, keep control of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The other is that the Democrats, who've done far less to earn it, take control. There is not a single item on Bill Quick's list, not one, that will be better rather than worse with a Democratic Congress. And the things that the Republicans have done well, and are getting no credit for (tax cuts, judges, understanding the importance of national security, the fence on the southern border), well, those are things that will get worse with the Democrats in charge.

It's is understandable that some would say, "the worse, the better." The "throw the bums out" idea is an idea with significant appeal. But I think that the "teach the Republicans a lesson now and everything will be better when they come back in 2008" is wishful thinking at its most wishful. If I were absolutely convinced that a Democratic takeover in 2006 would inevitably lead to a stronger, chastened and more conservative Republican majority in 2008, I might agree with the "throw the bums out" sentiment. I'm nowhere near that sanguine.

If the voters have, to use Peter Jennings' 1994 terms, a "temper tantrum," and change party control of the Congress this year, what earthly reason is there to expect them to change it back in 2 years? There has been 1 change of party control in the House of Representatives in the last 52 years. The Republicans have held control of the House of Representatives for the last 12 years. The Democrats held it for the previous 40. I see no particular reason to expect a Democratic takeover, if it occurs, to be a transitory, 2-year event. If the people haven't seen enough from Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean and the party they lead to recognize their fundamental unseriousness yet, what is the wellspring of the belief that they'll recognize it two years from now?

I'm a voter whose top three concerns at the Federal level are 1) National Defense, 2) Taxes and 3) Judges. There's not one of those concerns that would be better served by a Democratic Congress than a Republican one. So I'll be voting Republican. (Not that it matters - I'm in Massachusetts, and there is not now, nor will there soon be, a Republican in my congressional delegation. I'd vote libertarian, as I've done before, if there were one.)

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