Joe Torre & Karl Rove

In reading and hearing some New York City sportswriters call for the firing of Joe Torre, I’m reminded of how too many political writers write about the people who run political campaigns the same way.

Just as baseball writers and fans were quick to brand Torre a loser despite his overall record (one Daily News writer said if Torre was re-hired the Yankees were telling their fan to settle for mediocrity – after a 97 win season!), too many political reporters and folks who comment on blogs consider anyone involved with a winning campaign a genius and anyone in a losing one an idiot.

Let’s look at two Presidential campaigns

Both candidates were governors who ran against Vice Presidents who were serving under successful two term Presidents. The country was at peace and the economy was doing well.

One governor got 46% of the popular vote, the other got 47%.

The candidate with 46% was Mike Dukakis. LOSER.

You remember him. He was such a loser that he’s a punch line for jokes about losers. The folks who ran his campaign  blew the election by having him ride in a tank looking like Snoopy. The let his answer a question about what he would do if his wife were raped that made look like a wimp . Nobody from his campaign is considered a genius. 

The 47% candidate was George W. Bush. WINNER.

His campaign was run by Karl Rove who is so smart that one book about him is titled Bush’s Brain and another Boy Genius. Rove is so brilliant that political reporters are probably trying to find out if he is behind the North Korean nuclear tests.

Of course, if the butterfly ballot had not confused 1,000 Jews in Palm Beach, Rove would have been the idiot who blew a big lead by having Bush spend a day in Los Angeles that he should have spent in Jacksonville.

In the same way Joe Torre would have stayed a genius a little longer if Dave Roberts were thrown out at second base 3 years ago.

Let me make it clear what I’m saying. I’m not saying that there is no difference in the abilities of those running campaigns or managing or coaching sports teams.

And sometimes those in charge do act like geniuses or idiots and it makes a difference. I happen to think Grady Little did blow the series against the Yankees by not removing Pedro Martinez. And I think David Garth’s campaign was responsible for Ed Koch being elected Mayor in 1977.

What I am saying is that a lot of factors are involved in whether a candidate or a team win or lose. It’s rarely solely the fact that the people in charge of the winner did a much better job than the folks with the loser. And it would be a good thing for more people to realize that.

By the way, despite my own opinion, I would like nothing better than to see the Democrats win the Senate and House and then to read a Robert Novak column calling for Bush to fire Rove.