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Column: In Politics And Baseball, Bush Fails

This story was written by Sean Kittridge, Badger Herald

In a few short months, the Bush presidency will officially end. Like a dormitory resident after spring finals, George W. Bush will pack up his Zeppelin posters, disassemble his futon and leave Washington, D.C., for the friendly confines of Crawford, Texas. But while the nation continues to berate his eight years in office as a reign of terror and possibly the worst in American history, the good people of the Lone Star State know better. They knew George W. Bush had a strong track record of running large entities into the ground, and it all started in 1989 with the Texas Rangers. If poor decision-making and questionable associations are truly qualities to be feared in a president, we shouldve seen this coming a decade away. Nothing says Do you know who my Dad is? like the purchase of a baseball team. In April of 1989, shortly after his father took office in Washington, George W. Bush assembled a coalition of the willing to buy the Texas Rangers. Its debatable whether or not he thought Chuck Norris could DH, but it was well known the Rangers were a terrible organization. Much like in 2001, when an annoyed American public looked to the new president to take the country out of Clintons forgettable last years, George sought to change the culture in Texas. And in both instances, hed do it by making the public pay.

As an alleged fiscal conservative, President Bush was supposed to be about spending less and shrinking the government, ideas that led many right-leaning voters to elect him. But wars cost money, secret wiretapping operations expand the government and many people now claim Bush wasnt the Republican they thought hed be. Truth is, they didnt do their homework, as W. is nothing but a model of consistency. The construction of The Ballpark in Arlington, a new baseball stadium approved in 1992 with $191 million in public funding, is testament to Bushs willingness to spend the taxpayers dollar. Unfortunately, its also indicative of his inability to make sound decisions.

Miller Park has a roof because people dont like watching baseball when its 30 degrees in April. Minute Maid Park, located in Houston and home to the Astros, has a roof because people dont like watching baseball when its 95 degrees and humid in July. The Ballpark in Arlington, built in the suburbs of Dallas/Ft. Worth, has no roof. When it comes to running a baseball franchise, much like running a country, its important to keep the people happy. Theyre the ones who buy tickets, and theyre the ones who keep you in office. By building a roofless stadium 20 miles outside of Dallas, Bush all but guaranteed himself that attendance would suffer. Decline wasnt evident during Bushs time as managing general partner, as a new stadium will keep people interested for a few years, but in 2008 the Rangers fell half a million people below the average American League attendance. Of course, people will always come to see a winning team, and while Bush botched the stadium, maybe he could design a championship club.

As of today, the Rangers have zero World Series appearances. Id say Georgie failed there, too. But even though he did not build a championship team, he did build one with a slew of shady characters. Baseballs steroid era affected every team, and most players associated with juicing are merely connected by rumor, but its hard to put faith in a franchise that, while Bush was at the helm, employed Jose Canseco, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Juan Gonzalez and Ivan Rodriguez. This is a cast of players who make Karl Rove appear moral, and they all received paychecks from the future 43rd president of the United States.

The United States is much more complex than a baseball team, and comparing the two effectively can take a bit of stretching. But George W. Bush, as both managing general partner of the Rangers and president of the United State, demonstrated a consistent inability to lead effectively. Arnold Schwarzenegger might not be the greatest choice for governor, but at least Kindergarten Cop was funny. George Bushs professional career is nothing more than a series of swings and misses, and as a baseball man, he knows thats not good. Its been 13 years since Bush stepped away from the Rangers to serve as governor of Texas, and the team is still a perennial cellar dweller. If America suffers a similar fate, we should probably find a new national pastime.

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