Friday, July 16, 2004

And the Winner of This Year's MVP Award: John ???

And the Winner of This Year’s MVP Award:  John ???
 
by The Gray Dog
 
Stalled contract negotiations, open animosity toward management, threats of free agency and jumping leagues, have plagued the early months of this year’s season for John. It was sometime in early June, when only after threats of a new contract with the cross-town team seemed imminent, that management broke down and offered the kind of deal John had been waiting for.  Specifics of this multi-year pact have not yet been made public. However, it is rumored that much of the compensation package will be deferred until after the end of this current season when John is expected to retire from his playing career and move up to a position in the front office.  Despite his ineligibility for this year’s All-Star game, John had two strong appearances out of the bullpen going into the break.  As regular season play resumed today, John made his third consecutive strong appearance,  to up his record to three consecutive saves without yielding any earned runs.  John may have missed making the All-Star team this past week, but he may be on pace to become a serious contender for this year’s MVP Award.
 
This is only a scenario that could happen in the modern era of Major League Baseball or Major League Presidential Politics.  Of course I’m talking about John McCain, the darling of the early 2000 presidential primary season; the prodigal son that has rejoined his Republican team late in the season to perhaps make one of the most stunning comebacks, (or political reversals) in recent years. 
 
After several weeks of being courted by John Kerry to join the Democratic ticket, McCain in a series of highly public appearances has not only dashed the titillated excitement of Democratic dreamers, he has become a leading defender and spokesman for both George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. 
 
Save #1 – June 19, 2004, appearing with Bush in Fort Lewis, WA, McClain delivered a highly energetic and partisan introduction speech where he spoke of the President in glowing terms. Among McCain’s praiseful remarks were, “He heard the call to action on that terrible morning in September and summoned the rest of us to this long and difficult task. He has led this country with moral clarity about the stakes involved and with firm resolve to achieve unconditional victory." with the Senator concluding that it was, "a great privilege to introduce to you your commander-in-chief."  This is indeed high praise from a former presidential primary opponent and a Republican that hangs to the left of the party mainstream.  But it was with this strong outing that Senator McCain simultaneously ended the high hopes of a Democratic ‘Dream Ticket’ and prompted the rushed but predictable selection of John Edwards to be named as Kerry’s running mate. (For more on this topic, read my previous article “A Night at the Triple ‘L’: Kerry Picks Up a Mate”)
 
 
Save #2 – The use of McCain’s Fort Lewis speech in new Republican ads is not only a strong message to party faithful, it is also the ultimate shot across the bow at the Democrats.  It make’s it extremely difficult for the liberal talking heads to pick apart McCain’s remarks as partisan or pandering when he was their first choice just days before to shore up their ticket.
 
 
Save #3 – July 16, 2004.  McCain appeared with Dick Cheney in Lansing, MI today and delivered an introductory speech that rivaled a Kerry/Edwards love-fest.  In doing so, McCain not only continued to deliver high profile support of the Bush/Cheney team, but may also have finally squelched days of speculation that Cheney would soon be dumped from the ticket.  This has been an unnecessary distraction based on unfounded rumor, most of which has likely been instigated by the Democratic opposition.
 
So there’s the summary of Senator McCain’s extraordinary mid-season start.  If he continues to play team ball, play energetically and stays healthy, I believe John McCain may turn out to be the single greatest and unexpected factor in the race this year.  Also, I mentioned that we do not yet know the terms of any deal that must have been struck between McCain and the Bush/Cheney team.  If I were a betting man, my guess that the ex-Navy Pilot, Vietnam POW and war hero would become an obvious replacement for the aging and increasingly battle-weary Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense.
 
Conventional wisdom may believe that no one will be thinking of John McCain as they enter the voting booth this November and that may be true.  However, I feel that McCain in just a few short weeks has severely disrupted Kerry’s momentum by so publicly spurning his attentions, while cutting short a ‘Dump Cheney’ movement before any real momentum could gather.  It is said that politics makes strange bedfellows.  I suggest George and Dick should plump up a few more pillows and move aside a bit. To the right, maybe? 
  
 

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