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One of my guilty pleasures is listening to Bill Simmons’ “The B.S. Report” podcast, especially when he dials up his college buddy, John O’Connell. O’Connell, aka “Jacko”, is a devout New York Yankees fan. Simmons is a diehard Red Sox fan, so they know how to push each others’ buttons. Including the other day, when Simmons poked fun at the notion of past Yankees Andy Petitte, Jorge Posada, and Bernie Williams having their numbers retired this year.
All were very good players during the Yankees’ return to baseball royalty. But they’re borderline Hall of Famers at best. And hardly in same class as Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, or Mantle. Figure it this way: if you filled an airplane with past great Yankees, who’d get the eight seats in first class? Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle? Absolutely. Toss in Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, both first-ballot Hall of Famers once they’re eligible. That leaves two seats. Feel free to debate who deserves them (Whitey Ford, one of the managers — Stengel, Torre, Huggins, Martin — The Boss or Colonel Ruppert, and so forth). Anyway, let’s take this concept of who boards the plane and gets to turn left and apply it to the GOP. Again, with eight first-class seats for everyone standing at the gate and praying for an upgrade.
Three are obvious: Lincoln. Reagan and T.R.
The other five: let the debate begin.
Richard Nixon had a 20-year run in national politics. Does he get a seat?
George H.W. Bush? Imagine the difference today if he’s not on the ticket in 1980.
What about Barry Goldwater, whose influence is felt to this day?
And Newt Gingrich? Leader of the first congressional takeover?
And what about Robert Taft — aka, “Mr. Republican”?
Should a seat be saved for Roger Ailes? He never ran for office, but did help get three Republican presidents elected — and, oh by the way, changed the face of television news.
Speaking of changing the face of media: Rush Limbaugh.
Finally, the thinkers. William F. Buckley?
By the way, you can also play this game with Democrats. Andrew Jackson, FDR, Harry Truman and JFK all get a seat, in my opinion. As probably does Woodrow Wilson (it’s a short list of multi-term Democratic presidents).
That’s five seats — only three left.
Obama? And one or both Clintons?
That leaves out a lot of congressional Democrats (like Hubert Humphrey and Teddy Kennedy), plus at least one martyred Democrat (Bobby Kennedy) and another who’s sainted (Eleanor Roosevelt).
As well as “Mr. Democrat”, the late Robert Strauss.
And don’t forget Lyndon Johnson. Complicated guy, huge policy impact.
Food for thought — if your flight’s stuck somewhere on a frozen tarmac and you have time to kill at the airport, waiting for that upgrade.