Outside view: He traded Sammy Sosa

By TIM HEITMANN, Special to United Press International   |   Jan. 27, 2002 at 3:53 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- As time passes, confusing events often gain a degree of clarity.

With our contested presidential election well behind us, I have finally figured out how Al Gore lost the election. Forget dimpled and pregnant chads. Look beyond Clinton fatigue. A stiff and wooden speaking style doesn't explain it.

Al Gore lost the presidency because he did poorly with male voters. Ironically, the Gore campaign never seemed to realize that they had within their grasp a silver bullet through which they could have diminished the male shift to Bush.

First and foremost Gore was toast with male voters when it was revealed that he was paying some women $15,000 a month to tell him how to dress. Upon hearing this little morsel of information most men immediately thought, "Hey Gore's married doesn't his wife do that kind of nagging for free?"

To repair the damage some genius in the Gore campaign decided it would be wise to show a more manly Gore -- one that was fighting for us. In his nominating speech, Gore promised to fight oil companies, drug companies and just about any other corporation you can think of.

With over 60 percent of the male population invested in the stock market, this had the ring of an attack on a man's portfolio.

At this point Gore's only hope was became an effort to suppress the male vote. For this, he had at his disposal a serious indictment of George W. Bush's competence that would have shaken male voters down to their souls.

In 1989, as president of the Texas Rangers baseball team, Bush traded future Hall-of-Famer Sammy Sosa to the Chicago White Sox for Harold Baines.

In a cover up worthy of President Richard Nixon and his advisers, the team that gave us Watergate, the Bush campaign misled the country into believing that this trade was one Hall of Famer for another. The closely guarded secret within the Bush camp was the shocking but well concealed fact that Bush immediately turned around and traded Baines for that household name Joe Bitker.

In truth, the truth was Sosa for Bitker -- with Baines simply a medium of exchange.

Sosa hit 64 home runs last year and Bitker did win 10 games. Unfortunately for Rangers fans, he won those games on his company's softball team having been out of professional baseball for over five years.

Every Democrat attack ad should have stated "How can we trust G.W. Bush with Social Security, Medicare, education, defense (fill in the blank) when he traded Sammy Sosa for Joe Bitker?"

Frankly just thinking about the president's apparent lack of judgment in this matter is quite unsettling. Just the other night I had a terrifying nightmare -- the president traded Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld to the British for their Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and two junior backbenchers to be named later.

Attacks ads on this subject would have had a demoralizing effect on male voters. The average man would have been left to ponder a choice between the "guy who can't dress himself or the dope from Texas who traded Sammy Sosa."

I believe -- given such unappealing choices-- the male electorate would have stayed home in large numbers or headed to their favorite watering holes but certainly not to the polling booth. A lighter male turnout would have turned the election to Gore. Given the events of Sept. 11, thank goodness no one in the Gore camp truly saw the Bush vulnerability.

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(Tim Heitmann is a regular commentator on the Radio America Network.)

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