The first time I realized John Kerry was incapable of articulating a clear position on anything was when I saw him interviewed by ESPN’s Jon Miller about the designated hitter. Miller asked him what he thought about it, and his answer was something like “uh, well, I think it’s good, but, you know, some people think it isn’t.” (of course, the look in his eyes said “what is a designated hitter?”).
I do have a lot of problems with the way that we– or at least our proxies in the media– demand a foolish consistency from public figures when changing one’s mind is something that any honest person should be allowed. And I think in general that swaying with public opinion is a virtue for a politician in a democracy. But still. At that moment, my heart went out of my support for Kerry, to see him not even take a tiny baby stand, one that just didn’t matter.
Candidates, when Tim Russert asks you “Red Sox or Yankees?”, you are just going to have to order off the menu. There are two safe answers that spring to mind:
MR. RUSSERT: You spent a lot of time in, in Massachusetts. Are you a Red Sox fan?
GOV. RICHARDSON: I’m a Red Sox fan, but I got into trouble in New Hampshire. You know why? Because I said…
MR. RUSSERT: Luis Tiant, the fund-raiser. But, now, governor, this is very serious. In your book on page 18 it says…
GOV. RICHARDSON: No, about Mickey Mantle?
MR. RUSSERT: You said you’re a Yankee fan!
GOV. RICHARDSON: No, no, no. I said—no, no, no.
MR. RUSSERT: I mean, you can, you can…
GOV. RICHARDSON: No, no, no, no.
MR. RUSSERT: …you can have different views on immigration, assault weapons…
GOV. RICHARDSON: I, no no no no. No, what I said…
MR. RUSSERT: But when it comes to Red Sox, Yankees.
GOV. RICHARDSON: What I said, the Associated Press asked me, “If you weren’t running for president, if you weren’t running for president, what would you rather be?” I’ve always been a Red Sox fan, but I said if I weren’t running for president I would like to be number seven, Mickey Mantle, playing center field for the New York Yankees.
MR. RUSSERT: “Because of Mickey Mantle, I became a Yankee fan.”
GOV. RICHARDSON: I, my favorite team has always been the Red Sox.
MR. RUSSERT: You’re a Red Sox fan.
GOV. RICHARDSON: I’m a Red Sox fan.
MR. RUSSERT: End of subject.
GOV. RICHARDSON: End of subject.
MR. RUSSERT: You better get rid of this book.
GOV. RICHARDSON: Oh, no! I’m also a Yankee fan. I also like…
MR. RUSSERT: Oh, now, wait a minute!
GOV. RICHARDSON: You can—Tim…
MR. RUSSERT: I guarantee…
GOV. RICHARDSON: No, I know, I got in trouble…
MR. RUSSERT: …if you go—if you go to Yankee Stadium or Fenway, you cannot be both.
GOV. RICHARDSON: But I like—Mickey Mantle was my hero. If I weren’t running for president, and the Associated Press asked me, I’d play center field for the New York—I wanted to be number seven. And—but I still love the Red Sox as a team. I mean, this is the thing about me, Tim. I can bring people together. I can unify people.
MR. RUSSERT: Yankee fans and Red Sox fans?
GOV. RICHARDSON: Yes.
MR. RUSSERT: Not a chance.
GOV. RICHARDSON: Well, I bet you I can.