A Second Term and a Second Chance in the Nation's Capitol
Editor's Note: While the New York Times' George Vescey is not a member of the Baseball Tonight family, we are big fans of his at ESPN. When he mentioned in passing at Elaine's that he had lots of material from his George W. Bush interview about the Washington Nationals that went unused in the Times, we knew we had to run it. The following is an unedited transcript of a portion of Vescey's chat with the Commander in Chief shortly before he tossed the Nationals' opening pitch at RFK Stadium.
George Vescey: No, Mr. President, I don't think it was a coincidence that Lou Gehrig died of Lou Gehrig Disease. I'm certain that the condition was named after the fact.
George W. Bush: I'll have to trust you on that.
GV: Thank you, Mr. President. Now, do you have a favorite player in baseball at the moment?
GWB: George, I have so many of them. That's a great name by the way, George. Hehehe. On the top of the list of my favorite players at the moment — and this is current players — would be that boy from the Cardinals —
GWB: Not Pujols — but what a name, huh? — but he's great, too. No, that shortstop, Eckstein. I like to call him Squirt. Dick and I like to watch some games together, and we both like to root for the little runt. If I could, I'd give him a Congressional Medal of Awesome.
GV: What about pitchers?
GWB: That Marlin kid, Willis. [Shouting] WHACHOO TALKIN' 'BOUT WILLIS? Hehehe. That leg kick of his, it's like camo on the mound. Not only is he a good pitcher, he's an expert at concealingment. Whenever I meet with the Joint Chiefs I like to talk about Willis. Rummy gets so sick of it, but like I told him before, if he lets me talk about Willis he gets to keep his job. And I have. I've kept my word. I'm a man of principle.
GV: Do you get a chance to watch much baseball?
GWB: I watch it all the time! They've got the super cable TV in the residence and here in the Oval Office, and I'm always catching a game. I probably see more day games than anything — I rarely last past the fourth inning for the later ones. Damn West Coast Time. I need to fix that. Hehehe. But yeah, I'm always watching baseball. Like reading the bible and marital sex, it's one of the real joys of life.
GV: You mentioned steroids in your State of the Union Address last year. You obviously feel strongly about them.
GWB: I do. It sets a bad example for our children, our most precious natural resource. And when people use steroids they abort their potential, and I think abortion is wrong, as you well know. And using steroids is cheating — it makes you stronger and faster and richer, things that are totally un-American — and cheating makes you a cheater, and being a cheater is something you don't to be: a cheater. You see what I'm getting at?
GV: I do.
GWB: And if ballplayers — our most precious natural resource, mind you — start cheating then we become a nation of cheaters, because baseball is our national pastime. And pastimes are very important things. And so if America starts to have lots of cheaters then you no longer have personal responsibility. And without personal responsibility there is no ownership for your actions, and then you're living in a Godless welfare state.
GWB: And crime would go up, too! Look at all these problems we have with ballplayers now. People attacking fans and buying drugs and driving drunk. We didn't have those problems 20 years ago. Sure, there were some tough old boys, but players were moral men, and these players today are immoral men and women. And that's not a good example.
GV: Of course not.
GWB: Steroids are a symbol of the problems that America faces today. In fact, as I was saying to my brother Jeb the other night, steroids are biological terrorism. It's making the body do things it's not meant to do with an outside influence, and that's what terrorism is, only it's political instead of bodyial. And so this War on Steroids that the Congress has launched is just part of my larger vision for America, one that will make us stronger and faster and richer, the sorts of things that America is all about.