David Manning Trivial Liars of the Month for October 2004

John Kerry, "Red Sox Fan"

Believe me, it pains me to have to finger the Senator from Massachusetts in the Trivial Liar category. With so many really big lies flying around his and President Bush's campaign, it seems a bit perverse to concentrate on the trivial ones. But as a lifetime Boston Red Sox fan with impeccable credentials (available upon request) I find Kerry's claim that he is a Red Sox fan himself offensive, in light of his pathetic efforts to demonstrate his bon fides.

For he is not a Red Sox fan. He couldn't be. NO genuine Sox fan, when asked to identify his favorite Red Sox player, would answer with "Eddie Yost…the "Walking Man." Not because Eddie Yost is a relatively obscure player, not at all: my own favorite player was Red Sox shortstop Eddie Bressoud, who played for the team from 1962 to 1964. He's more obscure than Yost, but he actually played for the Red Sox. Yost didn't: he was a Washington Senator. How many fans of your favorite team would make such an error? The answer is: NONE. Even a casual Red Sox fan..heck, even a relative of a Red Sox fan… could come up some Red Sox icon like Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Tony Conigliaro, Dwight Evans, Jim Rice, Louis Tiant, or Bill Lee (okay, Lee's not an icon, but he was sure a lot of fun.) Kerry was, in a word faking it. He faked it again during the campaign when he referred to "Manny Ortiz," merging the current team's most fearsome hitters into one two-headed righty-lefty freak. Would any Yankee fan ever talk about "Derek Rodriguez"? Would a real Cub fan announce his worship of "Nomar Sosa"? Never. A team's fans might get the names of back-up catchers mixed up under pressure, but blather on about "Babe Gehrig"? No chance.

The latest saga of John Kerry, Sox fanatic, comes from the Boston Globe, which reported that the Democrat standard bearer is trying to decide how enthusiastic he can afford to be for his "beloved" Sox:

Bleary-eyed from watching the Red Sox past midnight and getting up before dawn to go goose hunting, John F. Kerry emerged from his armored sport-utility vehicle near midday yesterday, pumping his fist and pointing to his Sox cap--which was in his hand, not on his head. . . .

As exemplified by carrying instead of wearing his cap, Kerry and his aides are wrestling with how to take advantage of the confluence of events, and limit the risk in doing so.

A Red Sox defeat would align Kerry with a loser, while his appearance at the World Series could trigger a chorus of boos within the ballpark, as happened in August when he threw out the first pitch at Fenway Park. That is something the campaign wants to avoid next week during a slate of rallies to build momentum before Election Day, which falls two days after a Game 7 in the Series would be played, if it is necessary--and not delayed by rain.

No comment. As they say in the law, res ipsa loquatur. It speaks for itself.

I know that too much of the campaign has degenerated into macho posturing, and that Kerry's advisors felt that he had to show that he, like the former Texas Rangers president he's running against, is a real baseball fan. But as Hillary Clinton learned to her sorrow, being a fan isn't something you can fake, and real fans resent the pretense. He might as well have talked about David Ortiz's extra-inning touchdown in Game 4 of the play-offs.

You don't have to be a Red Sox fan to be president, Senator Kerry. But you do have to be honest and smart enough not to try to fool the real fans that you are.

I predict the Red Sox will win in 6 games over the Cardinals. And good night, Steady Eddie, wherever you are.


Ashlee Simpson

The episode put one nasty rumor to rest, the one that claimed "Saturday Night Live!" was no longer really live but taped in advance. Unfortunately, Ashlee Simpson's audio-malfunction on the show also revealed that the younger sister of pop diva/reality TV star Jessica Simpson really wasn't a performer. Ashlee had seemingly performed her inexplicably popular song "Pieces of Me" earlier in the evening, but when she returned later for her second number, a recording of her singing "Pieces of Me" was again heard, proving for all but the most gullible in TV Land that her supposedly live performances were, on this occasion at least, "lip synced."

Now, why anyone was shocked or outraged at this is somewhat difficult to see. Singers have been mouthing the words to their hits on TV for decades. Bing Crosby did it; so did Frank Sinatra, for heaven's sake, and nobody suggested that they couldn't really sing. It's different for Ashlee Simpson, perhaps, because as the sister of a "star," she is necessarily subject to the suspicion that she is really a no-talent mediocrity cashing in on a relative's name recognition. It is unfair, but common: using Der Bingle again as an example, his older brother Bob had to face this accusation despite the fact that his fame as a singer-bandleader pre-dated his younger brother's rise. But there's a greater problem: Simpson's reaction to the snafu marked her as a rank amateur. She stopped singing, wandered around the stage, did a brief hoe down dance (!) and walked off.

Then she earned her Trivial Liar wings. As SNL was signing off, she explained her collapse by saying that "the band played the wrong song," an obvious and pathetic lie. If this was all that occurred, Ms. Simpson only had to retain her composure and ask them to start again. Certainly that's what Frank or Bing would have done (they definitely would not have done a hoedown). The real problem, as anyone who witnessed the show could see and hear, was that the wrong tape of Simpson singing started to play, and she wasn't prepared to actually perform the right song, only to lip sync it.

Just because a lie is trivial doesn't necessarily mean that not telling a lie would be easy. Naturally, Simpson was embarrassed, and it would have difficult to say, "Sorry! I'm lip syncing my hits tonight, and someone played the wrong track!" But it also was the only thing she could say, because everyone could tell what had happened. In such situations, admitting why you looked foolish is infinitely preferable to denying what is obvious to all.


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