Tonight’s foreign policy debate promises a healthy dose of the Middle East and what each candidate thinks the other one should do or should have done with respect to places like Libya, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Romney will hammer Obama on Benghazi, completely ignoring the reality of the situation and the fact that a President should not be micromanaging things like security at a small consulate. Obama will talk about energy independence while choosing to continue ignoring our infatuation with the Saudis and their oil despite that country’s status as serial human rights abusers and traffickers in persons.
It’s too bad we can’t focus on some of the good things. Like the baseball diplomacy program that uses MLB players as ambassadors to baseball crazy countries in Latin America and attempted to use the game to thaw relations between the US and Cuba. Or how about the exchange programs where female American athletes travel all over the world to teach basketball and soccer clinics to young women in other countries?
We aren’t going to hear about any of that tonight. But we should.
Remember Marge Schott? Despite owning a team that won the World Series and being one of the first women to own a baseball team without inheriting it, she’s still best known for her racist slurs and comments on Hitler’s domestic policies. MLB eventually pushed her into selling the team in an effort to end what had become a huge embarrassment to the game.
Now, Mitt Romney hasn’t yet come out in favor of Hitler’s domestic policies and, although his church has some interesting views on minorities (as do most religions), he hasn’t yet had a George Allen moment. However, he illustrated this week why he isn’t ready to be President.
It’s interesting that Romney’s snafu took place on September 11. The thing that still stands out in my mind about that day in 2001 was the sense of unity afterward. Sure, it didn’t last, but for a few weeks we truly were all “just Americans.” We rallied around our country in its time of need and banded together to support each other.
Compare this with Romney’s response to the killing of US Ambassador Chris Stevens this past week. Instead of rallying behind the President, the country and the diplomats standing in harm’s way, Romney offered the following statement:
It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.
Now, aside from being patently untrue and misleading, a fact which Romney was made aware of and still refused to recant, it was also hardly the time or place to make such a statement, while the attacks were still ongoing and it was unclear how many people had died. It’s also telling that the statement was made without having all the facts and contained blatant lies. Granted, unapologetic lies have become a mainstay of the Romney-Ryan campaign but when it comes to Americans serving and dying for their country overseas, there’s simply no excuse for slandering them and their Commander-in-Chief.
It’s still possible that Romney could win the election. It’s also likely that he will continue this line of attack. But it’s essential that American voters see Romney for who he really is, just like MLB eventually had to do with Marge Schott.
Baseball, for the most part, takes place in the well-trodden hinterlands of the United States. Sure, much of the talent may come from various islands off the coast of Florida but ultimately they make their way through towns like Lansing, Peoria and Lehigh in hopes of being called up to Cincinnati, Kansas City or Pittsburgh. Being a baseball player often means getting an up close and personal lesson on US geography.
At the same time, many of these same fans who cheer for the Venezuelan or Dominican shortstop coming up with the team through the minors fail to see the irony in their universal distaste for immigrants and immigration. How do you think your Mexican pitching ace got here in the first place, shitforbrains? Sometimes it’s not so surprising when you consider the fanbase:
While these baseball migrants experience US geography firsthand and slowly learn more about their adopted country, many Americans willingly refuse to learn anything about the world around them. This is never more apparent than during the Olympic games.
The opening ceremony is a case in point with people scrambling for their atlases as soon as Albania and Algeria march in. It’s a little more disconcerting when even major US news sources can’t figure out the differences between the countries.
Luckily, though, the swimming, gymnastics and running are almost complete so there’s only one more week until we can go back to ignoring the world. Even more importantly, we can get back to fighting the menace of immigration. Well, unless it means picking up your new Japanese pitcher. Seriously, Texas, how do you think Yu Darvish got there?
We have good news and bad news over here at RSBS. The good news is that the people of Venezuela could soon see themselves with an actual government instead of a cult of personality. The bad news is, RSBS could soon have to find a new baseball loving world leader it can make fun of. Sure, Fidel is still out there but he’s more of a hermit than a leader these days. And other baseball-crazy countries seem to have more pressing issues to attend to which means less time to turn their countries into Bolivarian Republics or anything along those lines. No, I’m afraid that when Hugo goes, the crazy goes with him.
So, RSBS is putting out the call. Help us find a new world leader (or at least some sort of opinion-maker) who loves baseball but is just a little loose in the cranial wiring. My first thought was Mitt Romney but since he might possibly be a unicorn, I don’t know as though he’s a viable option. Hillary Clinton seemed good, too, but it’s hard to play nice with someone who claims to be both a Yankees and Cubs fan. Granted, that’s still better than Bill Richardson’s claim to simultaneous Red Sox and Yankees fandom.
It might just be that we’ve hit a cold streak. World leaders love soccer and whatever sport their national team is good at. Baseball? It’s just too much of a niche. But hey, there’s always Japan!
Apparently, we’ve been going at the problem all wrong. No, I’m not talking about the Tigers’ inability to hit baseballs to the spaces where opposing teams’ fielders are not. I’m talking about the quag… quagmi…. quagmi…. really bad situation that is Afghanistan.
See, while we’ve been pushing education for women, community policing and other counter-insurgency tactics, the guys we’re trying to turn them against do stuff like this. Sure, we do attack with drones and stuff like that but we don’t poison little girls…which would make you think that the rest of the people would run straight into the wide-open arms of Uncle Sam. But, not so much.
However, there may be another option. It turns out that maybe we just need to offer more reward money. I just wish we would have known earlier. We could have stopped up bin Laden’s finances and then just waited until he turned himself in to collect the award.
When most people hear the word “diplomat,” they experience a faint sensation of cocktail parties and a life on the international jet-setting circuit. But if you ever wondered exactly what a diplomat does, this recent account of the negotiations surrounding a Chinese dissidents departure for the U.S. is nothing short of fascinating. However, I still think the best work done by America’s Foreign Service is its sports diplomacy programs. In China this meant building on the opportunity offered by Yao Ming and bringing over other NBA stars.
In Latin America these programs go under the name “baseball diplomacy.” It makes sense. Most MLB teams have at least a scout and sometimes an entire infrastructure in Latin American countries in order to seek out and recruit promising young talent. Why not build on those ties by using the baseball players as ambassadors of American good-will? I’m pretty sure there’s no better way to illustrate the American Dream than by sending guys who are actually living it.
The only problem is, the guy who is truly living the dream right at this very moment hails from the U.S. of A., not Latin America. Seriously, does it get any better than being Bryce Harper? The guy is nineteen years old, talented beyond belief and finds himself playing on a team that seems to have finally put the pieces together. Not bad for a guy who still can’t legally drink and who only recently became eligible to vote. Oh, and I forgot to mention this:
Yep, I’m pretty sure I’d take “being a ballplayer” over “being a diplomat” any day of the week.
Considering it’s the off-season, there’s sure a lot going on. Ok, maybe not so much in the world of baseball where the AL’s Prince Fielder hangover is finally starting to wear off, but everywhere else, it’s pandemonium.
Of course there was the Superbowl, which, once again, was a phenomenal game. If you’re not American, there’s a good chance you’re following either the African Cup of Nations soccer tournament or tuning in for the ongoing rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona. And somehow people care about basketball again. But, that’s just sports.
In the non-athletic domains, the action is even more intense. Syria is descending into civil war and threatens to take the rest of the Middle East with it. Mitt and Newt, both of whom should be excluded from presidential consideration based solely on their first names, continue to slug it out in the race to the Republican nomination. If that’s not enough for you, we also have Iran’s war-mongering which seems to consist mainly of vaguely Monty Python-esque threats.
There’s another Iran note that truly caught my attention, though. It seems that they’re hedging their bets on the whole nuclear program by creating an unconventional back-up plan:[youtube http://youtu.be/MJjpFYVvwBo]
I’ll tell you what, you can laugh off Iran saying they’re going to close the Straits of Hormuz. But ninjas? No one laughs at ninjas. Except maybe Chuck Norris.