Favorite

Swing and miss 

It follows that baseball is both too important and too trivial to lie about. Even if your name is Hillary Clinton.

In my view, God invented baseball to provide a sanctuary from the fallen world of politics. I believe I've missed two televised Red Sox games this year. To me, the seven-month Major League season is the sporting equivalent of, say, "Downton Abbey" — a complex, seemingly endless narrative filled with surprising events and unforgettable characters.

My earliest specific baseball memory is racing into the bathroom where the old man was shaving to tell him that the Giants' Bobby Thompson had hit a miraculous ninth-inning home run to defeat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the finale of a three-game playoff. At first, Dad thought I'd imagined it. That was 1951, for those of you keeping score at home. However there are older home movies of me imitating the Dodgers' Howie Schultz at age 3.

It follows that baseball is both too important and too trivial to lie about. Even if your name is Hillary Clinton. But hold that thought.

Some years ago, I overheard my wife explain to a bossy woman friend why she allowed me to watch ballgames on TV.

It went something like this:

"Well, if I told him he couldn't, he'd do it anyway. He doesn't tell me what I can watch on TV. Also, my daddy was a baseball coach, so sometimes we watch games together. Do I ever get tired of it? Sure. But there are a lot worse habits a man can have. When Gene's watching baseball, he's home, he's sober and he's not out in some titty bar with the boys."

Sorry, fellows, but she's taken. Having spent her childhood riding in school buses all over Arkansas and Oklahoma with wisecracking teenaged baseball players, Diane's often the woman laughing when the others are gasping for breath.

In that she somewhat resembles, believe it or not, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. According to everybody who knew Hillary as a child, she was a passionate baseball fan. Her own father, a former Penn State football player, taught her early how not to swing like a girl.

At a 1994 White House picnic celebrating Ken Burns' documentary series "Baseball," Hillary surprised onlookers by stepping into the batting cage and smacking a couple of pitches. The Washington Post covered the event, mentioning in passing that she'd always been a Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees fan — like many Chicagoans for whom hating the crosstown White Sox means loving their rivals. (That's basically how I came to the Red Sox. As a National League kid in New Jersey, Yankee-hating was in my DNA. Also, Ted Williams.)

Indeed, a 1993 Post profile of Hillary quoted childhood friends saying that she'd been a walking encyclopedia of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris lore — this before word went out among the Washington press clique that shaming her as the World's Biggest Liar was the solemn duty of every ambitious pundit.

Now normal human beings take a person's word about these things. But our esteemed political press corps, as Bob Somerby points out in a series of witheringly funny blog posts on this solemn topic, isn't populated by normal people. Information and facts, he writes, "no longer play a role in our discourse ... It's narrative all the way down! The children select a preferred group tale. Then, they all start reciting."

And so they have on the topic of Hillary Clinton, baseball fan. The fun began in 1999, when the then-first lady was contemplating running for the U.S. Senate from New York. She made the mistake of going on the "Today Show" and telling Katie Couric she'd always been a Yankees fan.

The host objected. Wasn't she a Chicagoan and a Cubs fan?

"I am a Cubs fan," Clinton said. "But I needed an American League team ... so as a young girl, I became very interested and enamored of the Yankees."

Without bothering to check his own newspaper's reporting on this critical issue, a Washington Post "Style" reporter wrote, "a sleepy-eyed nation collectively hurled" at the surprising claim. The New York Times' Kit Seelye dubbed it "a classic Clintonian gesture."

And they were off to the races on the Sunday shows. Famous baseball fan George Will denounced what he called a "Clintonian lie, which is say, an optional lie and an embroidered lie." He used the word "mendacity." Jonathan Yardley pronounced it "a magnificent example of Clintonian vulgarity." Ever obliging team player Doris Kearns Goodwin used the word "sacrilege."

And so it's gone throughout Hillary Clinton's public life. To my knowledge not one of these elaborately offended pundits has ever admitted error on this trivial, but telling theme. As recently as July 2016, New York Times columnist Gail Collins cited the troubling claim as evidence that Hillary Clinton is opaque and unknowable.

Examined closely, it's amazing how many Hillary-the-liar claims follow a similar pattern. And they wonder why she's iffy about holding press conferences.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Hillary Clinton

Comments (24)

Showing 1-24 of 24

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-24 of 24

Add a comment

More by Gene Lyons

  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • Blaming Obama

    A couple of months ago, on May 10, President Trump invited two Russian diplomats into the White House to celebrate his firing of FBI Director James Comey.
    • Jun 29, 2017
  • Megyn vs. Alex

    As vigorously hyped broadcast events go, Megyn Kelly's televised confrontation with internet conspiracy cultist Alex Jones proved something of a dud.
    • Jun 22, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Not again

    This just in: Nothing boosts circulation or enhances ratings like a sex scandal.
    • Jan 14, 2016
  • Never wrong

    Quite a few people make noises about leaving the country if the wrong person gets elected president. I've been making discreet inquiries in the vicinity of Kinsale, County Cork, myself — from whence my people emigrated after 1880.
    • Apr 21, 2016
  • Hillary hit jobs

    It's always been my conviction that if Hillary Clinton could be appointed president, she'd do a bang-up job. Getting elected, however, might prove more difficult.
    • Jul 28, 2016

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated itsĀ 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Gene Lyons

  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • No one in charge

    The American president has long been described with the honorific "Leader of the Free World." No more.
    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Blaming Obama

    A couple of months ago, on May 10, President Trump invited two Russian diplomats into the White House to celebrate his firing of FBI Director James Comey.
    • Jun 29, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Another Jesus

    • The prophet Isaiah was a man of unclean lips and dwell among people of the…

    • on July 21, 2017
  • Re: Turn to baseball

    • leave the rules the way they are. teach players how to hit, don't legislate no…

    • on July 20, 2017
  • Re: Pay attention

    • The beautiful new 12th St. Precinct is full of empty rooms: Why not create a…

    • on July 20, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation