You could see right away, when he first appeared on the scene, that Barack Obama was a talented rookie. He had the stuff and the smarts to be a big time winner, and he was green as a farm kid with cow crap on his shoes and a weed in his mouth.
In his first year, Obama made every rookie mistake in the book. He let the other team knock him around, right out of the gate, and he took it. He should have brushed them back with a high, hard one at the earhole, but he didn't. He started nibbling, instead.
"Let's compromise, let's have a meeting, let's water it down, can't we all just get along? Kumbaya?" Ball, ball, ball, take your base, and no, we can't.
Spring is almost here, the second spring of Barack Obama's presidency. I don't know if he realizes it yet, but this might be his last shot. Politics is a tough game.
If I were his manager, here's what I'd tell him. Throw strikes, Obama. Tell your Congressional teammates it's time they scored you some runs. Stop being timid and reasonable, be a stud. Throw strikes.
You want to end "don't ask, don't tell?" Fine. Don't wait for a military commission to dither its way through some minor-league report; blow right past Congress and the stupid laws they'll never get around to repealing. You're the commander-in-chief; you're on the mound. Throw strikes. Tell the Pentagon you're suspending all dismissals under "don't ask, don't tell" for the duration. If the umpires on the Supreme Court say that's against the rules, spit some tobacco juice at their feet and issue pardons to every soldier they try to toss out with that ignorant, outdated policy.
Throw strikes, Obama. Blast a health care bill right down the middle, no more waiting. Trash talk your sissy Democratic teammates into getting you a tax bill that takes some of the steam out of the bankers and fat cats who are eating your lunch, and ours. Jam a jobs bill down their throats. Hire a bunch of unemployed construction workers to put up a skyscraper in the damned Rose Garden; shame them into action if you must. But do something; throw strikes.
Mr. President, you made a mistake when you let Congress drive the agenda. There's no drive in them, they're a bunch of meek followers, even their so-called leaders. America shakes in economic fear and loathing, the unemployed cry for work, Tea Baggers take cash from the conspiracy-theory right and use it to whip up hatred and racial animus, militias are mobilizing the weak-minded into 21st century Brown Shirts. And how do your Democratic teammates respond to those challenges?
They don't. They're still waiting for the CBO to score the umpteenth version of a health care bill they should have passed last July. If and when they get health care done, maybe they'll get around to putting America back to work, cracking down on credit card usury, busting the new cartel that owns Wall Street and trying to bring a modicum of economic justice back to the land, the way Democrats are supposed to do. But I doubt it.
If they meant business, the Senate Democrats would have gone to DEFCON 1 last summer. No more polite pretend filibusters, make them talk till they blow a larynx, no more waiting for Olivia Snowe to melt, she won't; no more bowing to the false god of bipartisanship, that god is dead.
Without you to lead them, Mr. President, they're dead in the water. Only you can save them from themselves. Only you have the ball.
Throw strikes, Obama. You're not facing the '27 Yankees. Don't give your opponents so much credit. I've seen these guys before, I've seen what happens when they're at bat; we all have. They will do what they always do. "Swing and a miss!"
But you're getting killed out there, kid. They're laughing at your soft stuff, they're beating your brains out without having to swing the bat. You came up here with the best fastball I've seen in a generation. Use it. Trust your stuff. Throw strikes.
It's now or never. The game's on the line, full count, bases loaded. Walk another guy and we lose. Throw strikes, Rook. Or we'll bring in someone who will.