The controversy over Ozzie Guillen’s statements regarding Fidel Castro occur at a fascinating intersection of money, politics and baseball, resulting in a media tempest and a five days suspension for Guillen. There are two reasons why Guillen’s comments in praise of Castro might have gotten him in trouble. The first reason would be that his political views angered the Marlins ownership. The second reason could be that Guillen’s, at best, poorly phrased, admiration for Castro, risked alienating the Marlins from Miami’s sizable Cuban-American population, many of whom are baseball fans.
There is a not very fine line between issues that should concern a president and issues on which a Fox News commentator should spend his or her time. This was made very evident last week. On Tuesday night President Obama gave his State of the Union address. State of the Union addresses are a rarely compelling form of political theater, but they are significant because they allow the president to present his agenda and goals to the American people. On Thursday night, by contrast, the remaining four Republican presidential candidates engaged in what seemed like their 400th debate. Actually it was only their 19th.
Fidel Castro, who has not had much experience with political competition of any kind has referred to the Republican primary campaign as a “competition of idiocy and ignorance.” Sadly, the longtime Cuban leader has a point. The race to the intellectual bottom and the loutish demonstrations of intolerance which havecharacterized the Republican race for the presidential nomination has been entertaining but also disturbing. Four years ago, the world saw the American political process at its best as the American people peacefully turned the page on the disastrous Bush administration and elected a new and very different president. The race this year, at least on the surface, is very different, but there are still elements of the campaign which demonstrate the strength and resilience of democratic systems of governance.