One Curse Down

Article excerpt

Had John Kerry and the Democrats heeded the example of the Boston Red Sox, they'd be in the White House right now.

The Red Sox hadn't won a World Series since selling Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. When they overcame the "curse of the Bambino" right before the election, the Washington Post claimed that "the culmination of the baseball season has never been so inexorably linked to the culmination of the presidential race." But the connection may not have been what the Post expected.

The Red Sox broke the curse by ignoring it. Shunning the defensive they came out swinging when their backs were to the wall, sweeping both the Yankees and the Cardinals. Unimpressed with their opponents, they rejected the copycat role, instead playing their own game and trusting their own vision. The Red Sox won with sacrifice: Schilling played hurt, and Wakefield volunteered for the bullpen. They won with redemption: Lowe and Martinez rose from infamy to pitch the games of their lives. They won with heroics: Ortiz, Damon, and Bellhorn all pulled off the impossible. They won with a leader, Terry Francona, who was genuinely connected, to the players and fans alike. They won with unity, with a real kinship both inside and outside the locker room. The Red Sox won because they finally believed in themselves.

Around the nation the Red Sox resonated with much of the population. As Mark Sappenfield suggested, they were "common men for the common man, antiheroes for Generation X, slackers in spikes." Dramatically, the Red Sox had become America's team.

This should have been good news for John Kerry, and a bad omen for George W. Bush and the Republicans. Kerry backed his hometown Red Sox in the World Series, and Boston owner John Henry supported the Democrats in the election. In contrast, Bush had strong ties to Boston's opponent, the St. Louis Cardinals. Three of the Cardinals owners were big Bush contributors, two of them received ambassadorships from the Bush administration, and two were former Bush partners when he owned the Texas Rangers. The stage was set for a battle between Massachusetts Blue and Missouri Red. With America pulling for the eventual World Series winner, the Red Sox, the Republicans might have wondered how they'd fare in the election, only a few days away.

But the Democrats were no Red Sox, nor have they been for a good long time. The Democrats were cursed when they sold themselves to the devil and began trying to be more Republican than the Republicans. While not completely shut out from the White House, the Democratic Party still hasn't had a real Democratic president since the 1960s. Jimmy Carter dropped the ball, Bill Clinton compared his presidency to the Eisenhower administration, and that's been it.

The Kerry Democrats ran a cautious, unheroic campaign, devoid of big ideas and big initiatives. Unlike the Red Sox, they didn't believe in themselves. As Arianna Huffington has suggested, the Democrats had no central theme; they lacked boldness, passion, and idealism. Defensively, they allowed the Republicans to be the populists, leaving themselves looking like the elites. Rather than allaying America's fears the Democrats ran their own frightful campaign of macho posturing. …