Who’s Bill Richardson’s handler? Manny Ortez?

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.

Anyway, the exchange below between Tim Russert and Gov. Bill Richardson, where he comes up with a convoluted way to be both a Red Sox and Yankees fan might also be a fatal moment for this long shot candidate in my book.

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:

  • The Chicago Cubs. Nobody can fault you for backing an underdog.
  • The Dodgers, if you say it’s because they were the first team to integrate, and that Jackie Robinson was your hero. And then qualify it as the Brooklyn Dodgers.

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.

6 thoughts on “Who’s Bill Richardson’s handler? Manny Ortez?”

  1. Actually, the “safe” answer (ok, the answer *I* would want to hear) is “Look Tim, I’m not knocking baseball but my time here is better spent discussing the issues and how I plan to address them. People do not and should not vote based on which sports team a candidate likes so let’s move on. I like two baseball teams equally. Big deal. I like cats AND dogs. So what? We’re in the big leagues Tim and you’re pitchin’ softballs. Now, would you like to ask me a *real* fucking question?”

    This of course will never happen.

  2. Marco votes the puritan party line. You do it with panache, though, which I can respect.

    Games matter.

  3. The safest answer to any question is no answer, or rather a no-answer answer. Similarly, the safest action for a politician to take is no action — but then why bother to take power at all?

  4. I’ve just grown so tired of the populist, every-man schtick. Vote for me because I’m just like you! Sure I went to Yale and sure I’ve got more money than you ever will but hey, I like the same things you do too! I love the Dodgers! When I’m in LA. Hey New Yorkers, here’s a little shout-out to Brooklyn. Mid-western states, did I mention how much I love basketball? You love your babies? I love your babies too! Here, let me kiss ‘em. I gave up my table at Le Cirque tonight so I could eat some of this down-home apple pie in your local greasy spoon. You bet I’ll be here for hunting season pending the Secret Service security assessment and provided enough photographers show up. I’d love to hear more about how your factory closed down Joe Jack but I’ve got the chairman of Merck on hold and my handlers say I really need to take the call. Did I mention how much we have in common?

  5. The best story about fake populism I’ve heard in recent years (well, besides the story of George W. Bush’s entire political career) is how, when John and Elizabeth Edwards had their anniversary tradition of eating at Wendy’s while on the campaign trail, John and Teresa Kerry joined them, though they had never eaten at a Wendy’s before. They found it “not too bad” and Teresa supposed it was because they used Heinz ketchup. Just in case, though, they had already ordered their regular 5-course meal to be delivered to their bus.

  6. Yeah, Kerry never did populism well, fake or otherwise. Hard to believe he was our last best hope in ’04. Truly a case of picking the lesser of two weasels.

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