Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Manager Bush played Hardball today.

Sure, he could have preempted The View and pissed Rosie and Barbara off. He could have performed his dog and pony show at 8 a.m., making Matt, Merideth and Al sit there on the couch waiting for the happy talk to begin again. But the Bush handlers aren't reading Bully Pulpiteering for Dummies. They know what they're doing.

What better show to peempt than Chris Matthews' Hardball? It was almost like Bush appearing on Hardball. Going mano a mano with Tip O'Neill's old speechwriter. Sort of.

Bush didn't say anything. He didn't make news. As McLuen would have said, " The medium was the message. " And so was the tone. Bush was feisty. Bush was combative. Bush was playing Hardball. Managing the news.

You could almost hear his handlers telling him, prior to making his entry, stage right.

" Play Hardball, sir. Play Hardball. "

So many things have gone terribly wrong since this man took office six years ago. These guys remind me of the early New York Mets, managed by Casey Stengel. Who said of his team, " Doesn't anybody here know how to play this game? "

But I have to admit, his handlers handled this one well. Preempt Hardball. Do what the guys who do well on that show do. Go on the offensive. Pick your battle, and remember the Powell Doctrine ( Forget what Rummy would say! ) Use all the force and ammo at your command. Focus your attention on this one front: The U.S. Attorney Battle.

Sure, mistakes were made. Fredo admitted that. You have, too. But if you make them focus on this rather minor mistake, this not so significant battle...

You win.

The strategy: Play hardball. Talk about the prosecutors and your amigo, Fredo. And lost in the fog of this war will be Iraq, Katrina, Walter Reed and all those other battles we're losing.

Play Hardball, Mr. President. Like Casey Stengel would have managed the game - when, of course, he wore pinstripes.

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