He’s smug, self-satisfied. He considers himself highly intelligent and insightful. He’s always talking. Family members recoil in disgust when near him. Friends are slow to come to his defense. Colleagues call him “a miserable son of a bitch.” He makes claims about racists and otherwise devious individuals in positions of power. He will never be President of the United States.
Is it Ted Cruz or Curt Schilling (or Joseph McCarthy)? Take your pick. Even if the stakes could not be more different, there are too many similarities in personality and actions to ignore here. On April 27, the former Phillies and Red Sox pitcher took to the mic to speak at length about his dismissal from ESPN, and he kept the hate and accusations coming at the usual velocity.
“Some of the most racist things that I’ve ever heard come out of people that are on the air at ESPN,” Schilling told the “Breitbart News Patriot Forum” hosts, per Newsday. “There are some of the biggest racists in sports commentating. You know who they are, you know what they are.” He did not identify these racists by name despite the fact that no one was restricting his speech at the forum.
Was he afraid to do so? When you are trying to smear someone in a position of power — in this case, commentators who hold lucrative positions in a successful media company — the idea is to avoid specifics.
Somewhere across the country, Ted Cruz was responding to comments by former Speaker of the House John Boehner, who called the Republican presidential candidate “Lucifer in the flesh.”
Cruz said that Boehner was actually mad at the American people, and thus the Lucifer reference went their way.
“When John Boehner calls me Lucifer, he’s not directing that at me. He’s directing that at you,” Cruz said. “What Boehner is angry with me for is not anything I’ve ever said to him. I haven’t said much of anything to him. What Boehner is angry with me for is standing with the American people.”
Back at the “Breitbart News Patriot Forum,” Schilling was describing how he was persecuted by ESPN not because of his bigoted hate speech but because he expressed conservative opinions. “In the end for me it felt like that rule applied to me and me alone because I was conservative,” he said, per Newsday.
Of course, Schilling was finally fired for posting an offensive image and statement (NSFW or anywhere else) about transgender people’s right to use the bathroom they feel comfortable using. Schilling maintained it wasn’t his post, which technically it wasn’t. He just reposted it.
Jackie Robinson Day, which recently passed, is a time when Americans celebrate the game of baseball for its march toward integration and the impact it had on the culture at large. Baseball was a mirror for a changing nation then. Sadly, it still is a mirror for society, but in this case the least likable politician in memory has a counterpart who until recently was an ESPN analyst.
They are also both up for elections: Cruz to be the Presidential nominee of the Republican party; Schilling for immortality in the Baseball Hall of Fame. May voters choose wisely.
Connect with Eric on Twitter @EricSchaalNY