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The Audacity of Hope

By Donald G. Evans

It’s an election year, and a crucial one. There are many issues to consider: The War, immigration, the economy, health care, taxes.

Which President will be most helpful in bringing the Cubs a championship?

Like abortion or the death penalty or taxes, this is a one-issue issue. Let’s forget about the rest and focus. We need focus.

Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, was the president in 1908, when the Cubs last won the World Series. Teddy was a New Yorker, which just goes to show…I’m not sure what. Though a Republican, Teddy spearheaded the Progressive Movement, a term now decidedly associated with Democrats. Confusing, I know. Do we want a Republican or a Progressive? Can we have our cake and eat it too? Which side gives Jason Marquis the best chance to wear out opponents in the second half rather than just wear out? These are all questions we have to ask ourselves.

Here is a list of all the U.S. Presidents, since Teddy Roosevelt, who have not brought a championship to the North Side:

William Taft

Woodrow Wilson

Warren Harding

Calvin Coolidge

Herbert Hoover

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Harry Truman

Dwight Eisenhower

John F. Kennedy

Lyndon Johnson

Richard Nixon

Gerald Ford

Jimmy Carter

Ronald Reagan

George H.W. Bush

Bill Clinton

George W. Bush

Let’s learn from this.

Hillary Clinton:

This campaign is not about gender, or is it? Baseball, or more specifically Cubdom, is not an exclusively male enterprise, but we must confess that men significantly outnumber women. You take your average post-game mating dance outside Wrigley Field, and would you rather be an incredibly over served woman or a falling-down drunk man? You see what I mean? You just don’t see women in the bleachers painting their entire upper torsos blue and white and jabbing their indexes fingers towards the heavens. Good thing or bad thing? It’s a coin toss. Men, Teddy accepted, have not gotten the job done. Might it not be time to see whether a female sensibility can solve the unsolvable problems? Does Hillary even have a female sensibility? Tough questions, no doubt.

hillarycubshat.jpgHillary is, of course, from Park Ridge, a graduate of Maine South, and a frequent wearer of a Cubs hat. However, and this might be Hillary’s Achilles Heel, she has also been seen wearing a Yankees hat. Might not a Mets’ hat be too far behind? I don’t think this needs much elaboration, except to say that carpetbagger does, indeed, seem to apply. We need a president with loyalty and a sense of history. We need someone who has gone to New York and hated it every bit as much as she thought she would—not a woman who’s chosen to serve as the state’s senator for two terms. We need somebody who, like Bill Murray, litters every time he goes to San Diego.

Hillary’s health care plan is the most wide sweeping, and this is in her favor. Cubs fans are drunks, many of us. We suffer from broken hearts, all of us. Who knows when Ronnie Woo Woo will need a new set of new teeth?

Then there’s this prickly criticism of Hillary’s ambition. There are those who say she’s manipulative—i.e.The Hillary Cackle. There are those who think she’ll say one thing and do another. Did she really cry, or was it all so much political strategy? In the final analysis, are her Cubs policies achievable or just hot air?

Barrack Obama:

 He’s an Illinois man, and naturally it would be nice to have one of our own in charge. But he’s from the South Side, which for our purposes might as well be Hawaii. Wait: he’s from Hawaii, too. A White Sox fan, you have to worry about sabotage; might not Barrack 2021897-1448798-thumbnail.jpg
"Barrack and the Bean" by Roberta Richardson
sink our chances just out of spite? On the other hand, he’s already joked about wearing a Cubs hat, and when he sees the poll numbers and the potential voting bloc out there, might not he ramp up his reelection bid with a tireless switch to the other side? When he talks about working both sides of the aisle, is he really talking about a Crosstown Series? How will he use the Internet to our advantage?

Barrack is a motivator, known for his powerful use of language and ability to inspire. Who, if not the Cubs, needs motivation? Who, if not our Cubbies, needs inspiration? But there is the knock on Barrack that he’s long on words and short on action. An eloquent call to win the championship will be a good start, but what is his action plan for bringing it to fruition? Hmmm. I must check his Web site.

07x.jpgTeddy Roosevelt was the youngest president at 42. Barrack is 46. Youth, or relative youth, must be an advantage, no? We need a combination of energy and wisdom, like Charlie Grimm—no, scratch that--, or Leo Durocher—no, scratch that, too--, or Herman Franks—forget I said that at all. Lee Elia, then, or Don Baylor. No, no. Let’s just leave it at: we need a combination of energy and wisdom.

Barrack went to Columbia University and then Harvard, and I don’t know what to say about this. I want to say yes to the ivy and no to the Ivy League, but you just don’t see enough presidential resumes with Wright Junior College or the right Columbia University, the one in the Loop. Pity.

The biggest plus for Barrack has to be the title of his memoir, The Audacity of Hope? Is that not our theme song, our rallying cry, the very essence of our mission?

John McCain:

 The cranky, surly 71-year-old might not have a lot of time left, and that might be a good thing. We need a sense of urgency in the White House. Not tomorrow. Today. A guy like McCain, nine years into cashing social security checks, can’t afford to wait ‘til next year. Next year might be a 21-gun military salute amid teary wives and ex-wives. No: if he’s going to do it, he’s going to do it now.

McCain’s a Republican and so, if he chooses, could use wiretapping, torture (or “enhanced methods of interrogation”), summon phone or library records, lock people up without charges, basically have G-Men follow around and harass whomever he chooses. Let’s face it: there are more tools at our disposal here. But he’s a senator from Arizona. Presumably, he’s an Arizona Diamondbacks fan, which seems to me like being a fan of rocks or black jujubes. Or is being a Cubs fan really more like being a fan of black jujubes? These tough issues seem always to twist back on themselves, don’t they?

We must also heed the far right’s concern over his liberal tendencies. Is this the one instance in which Rush Limbaugh is absolutely correct? What if, once elected, McCain goes soft? What if, prior to a playoff matchup with the Mets he decides Johan Santana has the right to legal representation rather than waterboard treatment in Guantanamo, or before a pivotal game with the Rockies that what Troy Tolowitzki reads is his own business? Where would that get us? We need Brandon Webb “detained” indefinitely, not out on bail and free to pitch nine innings of lock-down baseball. Does Ryan Howard not look suspiciously like a terrorist to you? Finally, we must ask whether the Coalition of Fear might not be used to the Cubbies advantage.

Republicans are big on tax breaks to the wealthy, and we must admit the Wrigley Field experience has become a somewhat corporate, upper-middle-class affair. When I was a kid, you could get in the ballpark for a buck and a half, but now the cheapest tickets are twenty and the most expensive eighty. And that’s face value, which, you know: forget about it. Tax breaks to the wealthy won’t necessarily bring a championship to Chicago, but it might make losing cheaper. Something to consider.

McCain prides himself on his integrity, but lately critics have suggested his record is not so clean. Either way, I’m not sure how it applies here.

It’s well known that McCain, a fighter pilot, was shot down and badly injured over North Korea, and held five-and-a-half years as prisoner of war, sometimes being tortured. So he knows some of what we’re going through.

My Endorsement:

 Hillary’s out—I can’t get past the Yankees cap. McCain—the Diamondbacks issue comes back to haunt him. Barrack gets my vote because he’s the underdog trying to win against all odds. He is us. The Audacity of Hope, beginning now, will be our anthem. We’ll forget about the last 99 years, and with Barrack leading the charge, begin an era of change. Won’t winning the World Series be the biggest change of all?

Donald G. Evans, author of Wrigleyville sports gambling novel Good Money After Bad, is the Lovable Losers emcee. His stories have appeared in StoryQuarterly, Pinyon Review, The Journal and Narrative Magazine, among others.

Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2008 at 09:55PM by Registered CommenterLovable Losers Literary Revue in , | Comments12 Comments | References4 References

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