Amid all the partisan rancor of congressional politics, the softball league has for 37 years been a rare case of bipartisan civility, an opportunity for Democratic and Republican aides to sneak out of work a bit early and take the field in the name of the lawmaker, committee or federal agency they work for.
This year, the league will be missing something: a lot of the Republicans.
During the off-season, a group of Republican teams seceded from the league after accusing its Democratic commissioner, Gary Caruso, of running a socialist year-end playoff system that gives below-average teams an unfair chance to win the championship.
The league "is all about Softball Welfare -- aiding the weak by punishing the strong," the pitcher of one Republican team told Mr. Caruso in an email. "The commissioner has a long-standing policy of punishing success and rewarding failure. He's a Democrat. Waddya' expect?" read another email, from Gary Mahmoud, the coach of BoehnerLand, a team from the office of Republican Majority Leader John Boehner.
Digby notes that this softball game is, umm, relaxed: no balls or strikes so people can wait for their choice pitch to swing. He then opines:
Can someone tell me why these awesome GOP athletes aren't in Iraq instead of measuring their dicks in a slow-pitch softball league that a junior high girls team could easily dominate? Could it be because they are a bunch of pathetic, bedwetting chickenshits? I thought so.
A worthy question, indeed.
I had a bit of a different reaction, though. The sentiment that these future burglars and lobbyists emote has interesting, and ironic, parallels, especially for being from the "Christian valyews" party. I feel that I have license to consider their statements paradigmatic, as they echo the statements of many "conservatarians" I have known, and are emblematic of part of the core of the conservative ideal. The perspective of these kids is echoed by congressional leaders, Republican presidents, and the heads of many churches in this country.
Compare the above statement about the "weak" and "strong" to this: "Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you at the foundation of the world, for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, ... Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me." Not too similar at all, eh? That was Matthew 25:35-40, one of the foundational passages in Christian theology, considered by many the hard core of Christian ethics.
How about this: This figure describes his faith as "a brutal religion of elitism and social Darwinism that seeks to re-establish the reign of the able over the idiotic, of swift justice over injustice, and for a wholesale rejection of egalitarianism as a myth that has crippled the advancement of the human species for the last two thousand years." Now there's a matching sentiment!
The name of the figure who gave the last quote? Peter Gilmore.
His occupation? High Priest of the Church of Satan.