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On Cleveland Sports and the House GOP

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

As a lifelong and long-suffering Cleveland sports fan, I know what happens next to the House GOP: a demoralizing loss, followed by a pledge of rebuilding and perhaps a coaching/managerial change.


Indeed, that is what is underway with both of the clubs I have followed for 50 years. Terry Francona has arrived in the Indians’ dugout and the front office has just dispatched Shin-Soo Choo to the Reds for a hot young pitching prospect Trevor Bauer and Drew Stubbs, and the Tribe’s closer Chris Perez and their shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera remain on the block.

The Browns, by contrast, have put together three wins in a row and are technically eligible to make the NFL’s playoffs –a 3% shot at 5-8 so the odds makers say—but their very young and talented team are almost certainly going to be led by a new coach in 2013 as head coach Pat Shurmur and GM Tom Heckert don’t look likely to survive the arrival of new owner Jimmy Haslam and his new CEO Joe Banner.

The Indians and the Browns have been pretty bad for pretty long. The Browns since before they were carted away to Baltimore because of an incompetent owner and a failed coach named Belichick, and Indians fans have suffered since the team blew a 3-1 game lead over the Red Sox in the 2007 American League Championship Series, which followed losses in the ’97 and ’95 World Series.

The Browns haven’t won it all since 1964 –that’s before the Super Bowl was invented—and the Indians haven’t won the World Series since 1948.

The Cavaliers have never won the NBA title, but they have only been playing since 1970.


This is all just so much experience for assessing the House GOP prospects. Speaker John Boehner (from the land down south in Ohio where an occasional winner has arisen –very occasionally) is getting thumped in the media every day. Every day or so he makes a brief appearance to announce he isn’t winning any points and then he retreats behind a chorus of boos from the base, which is very similar to a Browns game. At least people are watching, which makes it different from an Indians game.

But that could change. There is nothing quite like hosting a national talk radio show to get a sense of what is going on among the grassroots, and the dismay with the House GOP is quickly turning to anger and not because they are losing, but because they appear not be playing the game at all. They aren’t running out the groundballs. They aren’t even taking their at-bats.

For a couple of days Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell scored some points and cheered the GOP faithful, but then the president took to just calling the Speaker, and the MSM adjusted its focus to an almost exclusive attention on the Ohio congressman, but the Speaker doesn’t speak much. When he does it is in rather short bursts, and no one is going to compare him with any of the GOP’s “big four” –Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio or Paul Ryan—when it comes to the ability to deliver a message though he is pretty good when he tries.


But he isn’t trying. He is negotiating. If he walks away the country –and the military—goes over a very steep cliff. If he takes a lousy deal, the country goes into a long period of low growth and high taxes but he might save the Army, Navy, Air Force and marines from a savaging. Not a good situation. He must feel for Pat Shurmur.

But here’s the thing. Shurmur has been generating some –not much, but some—sympathy from the fans who see he is turning his young team into winners, helping to mold Brandon Weeden, Trent Richardson, Josh Gordon and a bunch of other young players into winners. They compete. They aren’t an embarrassment to their fans.

What the GOP needs is the evidence of fight, of ideas, of an argument –not bulletins from the bedside of the GOP. When the Speaker emerges with a deal, no matter what it is, the stands will be empty and the critics will be legion unless he begins very soon to show his supporters that he believes what they believe and is fighting for the same things they hold dear.

A franchise is a terrible thing to waste, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Believe me, I know.

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