There were two suspensions yesterday in two of America’s favorite pastimes: baseball and politics. The Miami Marlins suspended manager Ozzie Guillen for five games for praising Fidel Castro. The Venezuelan-born Guillen infuriated the Cuban-American community that his team had spent hundreds of millions trying to woo with a new $634-million stadium (built of course with taxpayers’ money), new uniforms and the most famous Latino manager in baseball.
Then Guillen said he “loves” Fidel Castro, continuing, "I respect Fidel Castro. . . .A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that (expletive) is still there." That didn’t sit well with the fan base, and ownership forced Guillen to publicly repudiate his comments, which he called “the biggest mistake I’ve made in my life so far.” His abject apology may not save his job.
Meanwhile, Rick Santorum, who has made comments far more egregious than those of Ozzie Guillen, “suspended” his presidential campaign. And while, mercifully, he will not be a candidate for president in 2012, he actually enhanced his standing in the party and his prospects for the future. Mitt Romney and the Republican establishment are grateful he is out of their way; his ultra-right-wing base is delighted to see him elevated to the status of national spokesperson; and he has been spared the need to submit his ideas to a national plebiscite.
So, a man involved in a boys’ game may lose his career for an offhand remark (which Joshua Keating pointed out was “as undeniably true as [it] was undeniably insensitive to Castro’s victims”), while a man seeking the presidency is being praised for the courage of his candor.