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George Will and the Designated Hitter

November 08, 1986

Will's endorsement of baseball's designated-hitter rule represents a serious lapse from his usual high standards of conservative thought.

Will uncharacteristically pays no heed to the long history of opposition to this pernicious novelty by such varied champions of conservative thought as Genghis Kahn, Simon de Montfort, Lord George Germain, President Warren G. Harding, and the Dowager Empress Szu-Tse. Surely he cannot have forgotten how from the very beginning Marcus Porcius Cato, with his reiterated cry of "Delenda est omni nova!" fought in the Roman Senate for repeal of the iniquitous lex designata passed by radical elements in the Assembly.

Confucius said, "The superior man does not oblige another to go to bat for him." The words of Prince Metternich, "Le batteur designe, c'est abominable!" (one of the few points upon which Metternich and the Duke of Wellington agreed at the Congress of Vienna), should be recalled. Even Joseph Fouche, who was something less than an exemplar of conservatism, said of the designated-hitter rule, "It is worse than a crime; it is a blunder." And it should hardly be necessary to remind Will and other informed conservatives of what Acton, Chesterfiled, and John Stuart Mill had to say.

Will's acceptance of the designated hitter as a tenth member of the team betrays a shocking taint of liberalism. Nine, as Pythagoras long ago observed, clearly is a more conservative number than ten.

Unless conservatives stand fast on this issue, the process will not stop with replacement of only the pitcher. If the sinister tide of liberalism is allowed to get one foot in the door, it will not rest content until it has delivered the cruelest blow of all that breaks the camel's back and shakes the foundations of the republic. All true conservatives must join hands to place their fingers in the dike and turn back the clock before we are presented with a two-platoon system in baseball.

I urge Will to think of the millions of impressionable schoolchildren who look to his column for guidance, and to recant his error lest they follow him on the first steps down the liberal road to perdition.

THOMAS D. CULLEN

San Pedro

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