Ink Ted Cruz to a Four-Year Contract

by Nicholas Frankovich

Ted Cruz dominates the delegate-selection process in Louisiana and Colorado. Trump then erupts in flustered indignation, sounding like Mom in the old joke:

Mom: How was the game?
Son:   Great. I went 3 for 4 and stole second base.
Mom: Well, you march yourself right back to school and put it back.

You would think that, instead of jeering at Cruz for his hustle, Trump fans would boo their own candidate for fielder’s indifference. He just stands there, fuming and whining, watching as his opponent circles the bases.

Cruz plays hard but clean. Trump talks tough but plays soft. He speaks roughly but (sorry, I’m only staying close to the Teddy Roosevelt aphorism here) carries a small stick.

The Atlanta Braves back in 1977 had extended their losing streak to 16 games when owner Ted Turner fired the manager, donned a uniform, sat in the dugout, and attemped to manage the team himself. He fast found himself in over his head. The third-base and bullpen coaches rushed in to back him up. The Braves lost again, 2–1.

Turner had been fervent. He had clapped his hands and shouted encouragement from the dugout. A “rah-rah kind of guy” is how Braves infielder Darrel Chaney described him. Turner was earnest. But he wasn’t serious. The next day, league officials ordered him to stop embarrassing his club and the game.

“When things are going bad, there are 10,000 guys in the stands who think, ‘If I could just take over this ball club for a while, I’d straighten them out,’” Turner explained. He was right about the guys in the stands: That’s what they think. To his chagrin, he proved them wrong.

Donald Trump is a rah-rah kind of guy. He’d make at least a serviceable bench jockey, one might argue: He scowls at the opposing team and sends hostile tweets. But even those are lame. He has no wit. To the war of words that is the race for the White House, he brings the verbal intelligence of a child. His signal-to-noise ratio is low. His fans don’t care, because the noise is loud. They think it’s a contest of decibels.

Trump thinks that judges sign laws and that the Supreme Court conducts criminal investigations. He doesn’t know anything about anything and won’t do any homework. Feckless, he wobbles and vacillates, all the while protesting incoherently, making a drama out of everything.

When challenged, he sputters. He contradicts himself. He has no compass or rudder. He says that America should bomb the bleep out of ISIS and then that America should not be the world’s policeman. He would eliminate the Department of Education but thinks that the federal government should have a role in public education. So which is it? “The concept of the country is the concept that we have to have education within the country,” he explained. All clear?

His ignorance of even the broadest outline of the age-old debate over abortion policy in the United States is pretty astonishing. He said that a woman should be punished for having an abortion if it became illegal. Apparently he thought it’s what pro-lifers wanted to hear. A few days later, trying to backpedal, he said that abortion should remain legal until it’s not. And that is how it should stay, he added, signaling that he was either pro-choice or pro-life. Take your pick. All sides were confused. To even consider electing such a vague, labile personality to public office would be to consider signing a blank check.

The president of the United States is not like the owner of a baseball team. He’s like the manager. We’re the owners. We hire him. He works for us. We love our team a lot and understand the game a bit. We enlist the expertise and service of those who know it better.

Of the two front-runners in the Republican primary, one doesn’t know a double switch from a defensive shift, although he’s a real rah-rah kind of guy — maybe he could apply his experience in the steak business and casino industry? You gotta think outside the box, in these troubled times. Etc.

So says a vocal minority of the adult population. They would rather lose with Ricky Roma, a blowhard real-estate con man who entertains them, than win with a competent statesman, a powerful debater who has argued and won cases before the Supreme Court.

Some say they only want to shake things up. Others would go further and blow them up — from Occupy Wall Street to certain pockets of the Trump campaign, Americans in recent years have been flirting with old-time Russian nihilism in modern dress. They don’t want to master chess, they want to grab the board and fling it. It’s a shame, because 2016 is a game that we — Republicans, conservatives, and everyone who only wishes that Hillary Clinton would go back to Chappaqua and leave us alone — can win.

Take heart. Joe Torre wants the job. Or Tony La Russa, if you like. Or Miller Huggins. I mean Cruz, who’s that good, the political equivalent of the strongest minds in the history of the national pastime. He’d beat Clinton in the debates. Sign him.

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