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President Obama and ‘The Pride of the Yankees’

As I see it, President Obama is more interested in appeasing those who hate the US (European socialists, jihadists, Cuban and Saudi Dictators, etc.) than the 58M Americans who didn’t vote for him. He constantly reminds the right that “he won” and that his budgets will pass in spite of the fact that not a single republican (and a number of democrats) approves. Yet he will go to Europe, a continent that without the United States would have fallen to Hitler’s Germany, and apologize.

Apologize for what? For defeating socialism, fascism, and communism? For fighting and dying on foreign soil and never asking for more spoils or land than that which is necessary to bury our dead? (When asked by Pres Sarkozy, he chose not to go to Normandy so as not to give unfair time to Britain or Germany-I’m sure they would have understood) Is he apologizing for immigration policies that welcome into our country (legally) anyone in the world who wants a fair shot at success where they will live free from oppression? Perhaps he’s apologizing for our military who serves as the world’s police force and protects the international commerce that has resulted in never before imagined global prosperity?

Rather, he apologized for American arrogance. I say until some other country can demonstrate that they are able to accomplish as much and in as little time there is nothing to apologize for. For pete’s sake, it’s taken 22 of them to join together just so their economy can rival ours. And don’t get me started on their militaries. Our smallest service, the Marine Corps, is larger than the militaries of most other countries in the world (not run by despots). There is no comparison.

We’re arrogant because we’re the New York Yankees of the world in a league full of Los Angeles Clippers (I know, I crossed sports but since we play baseball/football and the rest of the world plays soccer/basketball, the metaphor is sound). They have a rich tradition of winning and have dominated their sport (106 years – 26 championships in 39 World Series appearances). There is no team in professional sports that evokes as much visceral emotion and contempt as the New York Yankees. You either love them or hate them but no one lacks an opinion. (Update: it seems even the Reverend who conducted Easter services for the Obamas has an opinion, President Obama’s new pastor lets loose on Yankees in Easter sermon) They matter more than any other team. Like the US, the Yankees are broadly criticized because, at the expense of balanced competition, they have huge resources from which to draw and use those resources to attract the best players which, typically, translates into more wins.

If international politics were a sport, maybe the lack of competitive balance would warrant an apology. However, what separates conservatives from liberals is the understanding that politics is like sport in one way only, that there are winners and losers. By ignoring the truth that there are fundamental differences in the capabilities—as well as the willingness to achieve—of certain teams, we’re only kowtowing to those who will attempt to win at all costs and could not care less about the rules established in the international playing field. As much as we’d like the world to be fair, there are teams that—rather than searching for a competitive edge—would prefer to destroy Yankee Stadium and kill all the players.

Unfortunately, however, the Yankees analogy works better than I’d like.  The US is not playing its best ball right now and Americans are looking to regain that winning form. International and domestic perception of our strength has waned since its apogee in 2001. Perhaps it’s no coincidence then that 2001 was the year the Yankees lost to the upstart Diamondbacks in the World Series. After a couple of failed playoff runs in subsequent years, the Yankees opted to go against what made them dominate and earned championships in 4 of 5 years. Those Yankee teams of the late 90s were comprised of players who valued teamwork, hard work, and sacrificed individual accolades for unity of purpose. Intolerant of their recent lack of success, the Yankees signed the most dominant player in the game (even if he was using performance enhancing drugs). In addition to being a talented player, by all accounts Alex Rodriquez is articulate, handsome, possesses mass appeal but is largely concerned with the public’s perception of him. His presence though, has not translated into wins and last year the Yankees failed to make the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons.

Americans too are looking toward a new player and are hoping that he will lead the team into championship form. Like A-Rod, he’s talented, articulate, possesses mass appeal and possibly cares too much about how he’s viewed than how well he serves. But rather than returning to the form that made the US great, President Obama is crippling his own team in order to make every other team more competitive. He’s using the current crisis to enact policies that have never proven to have long term effectiveness let alone achieved success. To continue the sport analogy, he wants a nation of baseball players to start playing soccer. Worse yet, he believes that no one team, especially not the United States, should be the undisputed winner. In this game, he wants everyone to have a trophy. Sorry Mr. President, just like sports, politics don’t work that way.

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