Between the Lines: Elizabeth Warren's Sox Appeal

Never have I been prouder, more impressed with myself, more assured of my self-worth.

Nah, I didn’t win anything—not yet, anyway. But now that I know what it takes to win, you’d better watch out. I’m not ready to announce my plans quite yet, but let’s just say I’ve started putting together an exploratory committee with an eye toward a U.S. Senate seat.

To be honest (and I’m not sure how much longer that will continue), I had pretty much given up on the idea of ever running for an elected position. Not that I have anything particularly ugly in my closet—in fact, compared to someone like Scott Brown, who got pinched shoplifting at the age of 12 and posed nude in Cosmopolitan at 22, I’m so clean I squeak—but given some of the intemperate things I’ve written about politicians over the years, I didn’t think either of the two major political parties would want to do me any favors.

But now, thanks to the fuss the Massachusetts Republican Party is making over Elizabeth Warren’s recently announced bid against Scott Brown, the incumbent U.S. Senator who upset state Attorney General Martha Coakley in the 2010 special election to succeed the late Ted Kennedy, I have seen that at least one party would be thrilled to have me on the team.

“Professor Warren Can’t Name Single Sox Player,” reads an email I received last week from Tim Buckley, mouthpiece for the Massachusetts GOP. The email continued:

“In the latest evidence that Professor Elizabeth Warren comes from a world of Harvard elitism and is far removed from the middle-class values she claims to represent, Professor Elizabeth Warren couldn’t name a single member of the Boston Red Sox when asked yesterday. &Warren’s performance calls to mind Martha Coakley’s infamous gaffe when she claimed that Curt Schilling was a Yankees fan in January, 2010.”

Initially, I was surprised to see how badly out of shape Buckley twisted the truth. Warren, a Wall Street reformer and consumer financial protection hawk, didn’t say she couldn’t name a Red Sox player; she merely declined to do so. Initially, I saw her refusal to play into the dumbing-down of politics as a sign of strength and intelligence.

But now, having seen the GOP attack replayed in all the major media, I see that Buckley and the boys are onto something—something a sports-loving middle-aged white guy like me should be proud of.

You see, not only can I name pretty near every Red Sox player from this year’s squad, I can name most of them going back to the 1967 Impossible Dream team. I can also name a pretty good number of New England Patriots and Boston Celtics. I’m not as good with the Bruins—I’m kind of a fair weather hockey fan—but I know who Tim Thomas, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara are.

Since I was I kid, I’ve always thought of professional sports as pure entertainment—unless you actually made your living as a pro athlete, that is. In fact, I’ve often felt a pang of guilt at how much time I waste reading box scores and watching sports on TV. As an adult, I’ve really only taken a few sports seriously: running, cycling and skiing (because they keep me in shape) and hunting and fishing (because they’ve taught me much about myself and the world around me.)

But those sports don’t count for much in politics. Running is too pedestrian; cycling is too easily associated with the French; skiing is too easily confused with cross-country skiing, which is totally fay. You might think of hunting and fishing as manly, but they don’t seem to do much for politicians, and claiming to be a hunter can be downright dangerous. Republican Mitt Romney’s claim to be a “lifelong” hunter, for example, almost backfired when reporters learned that he didn’t own a gun and had only been on two hunting outings—one hunting quail on a private reserve with GOP fundraisers—in 45 years. Lucky for him, he knew what to say: “I’ve always been a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints, if you will. I began when I was 15 or so and I have hunted those kinds of varmints since then. More than two times.” (Romney’s line fell flat with the editors of Field and Stream, but we all know they’re just a bunch of Harvard elitists, anyway.)

And speaking of elitists, I know some voters might be tempted to write me off as one of those “one-issue” candidates. To you high-minded folk, I make this promise: I have a lot more in my quiver than a solid command of home team rosters.

I also have a brown barn jacket and a pickup truck.

Author: Tom Vannah

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