Yesterday, they said Paul Lo Duca would catch the ceremonial first pitch at the Nationals’ new park, thrown by President George W. Bush.
Today, they said “never mind.” It’ll be somebody else. Anybody else. Maybe Manny Acta.
So what’s wrong with Lo Duca?
I have a few ideas.
Mind you, I don’t live in Washington. I don’t work in politics. But I’ve seen enough episodes of “The West Wing” to know how these things work.
We can assume Lo Duca got vetted. This is common practice. If you’re a member of the public and you’re going to be coming within 100 yards of the president, then they’re going to take a look at your file.
Somebody investigated Lo Duca and raised an objection. The question is who? And why?
Lo Duca’s ouster had to be either politically motivated, or it was over security concerns.
Why would Lo Duca be a political liability? Well, there was that little matter of Lo Duca’s gambling debts, which were said to be sizable. Lo Duca claimed his debts were with offshore bookies, which is illegal. Then there was his very public divorce from his playmate wife and the revelations of his affair with a 19-year old college student.
Why would Lo Duca be a security concern? Did we mention the gambling debts? Two years ago the New York Daily News reported that on at least two occasions, big mafia-type guys attempted to visit Mets catcher at ball parks for the purpose of collecting gambling debts. If guys want to break your legs, you don’t get to hang with the prez.
Is it fair? Maybe not. But that’s the way it is. A guy with Lo Duca’s checkered past simply can’t catch for the President.
Now, if he wants to be president, that’s another story. In fact, his divorce might even help.
UPDATE: Andrew points out that Lo Duca’s inclusion in the Mitchell report probably didn’t make him any more palatable politically. I totally meant to mention that.