Baseball heals. That’s the only way The Scrapbook can explain Keith Olbermann’s transformation. How else did Bush Derangement Syndrome’s patient zero wind up complimenting the 43rd president? After nearly a decade of insulting George W. Bush, Olbermann now says he’s a fan. Actually his praise was more specific. The onetime MSNBC commentator wasn’t recanting all his nastiness—he was just saying, as a baseball guy, that Bush knows his baseball, too.
In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Olbermann explained that the politician with “the most serious sports chops” is Bush. “He went on the ESPN broadcast of the first game of Nationals Park,” said Olbermann, “and within half an inning half his twang had vanished and he was talking twice as fast and a mastery of his topic was evident to anybody listening. He really came alive in that booth. Hell, if he’d do the color, I’d do the play-by-play.”
Of course, after all the vile calumnies Olbermann heaped on Bush over the years, it’s not clear the Secret Service would let him in the same booth as the former commander in chief. Nor is it obvious that Bush himself, for all his good humor and charm, would want to spend even a few hours trading insights and jocular barbs with a man who formerly wanted him to “shut the hell up.”
So how is he going to justify his 180 on Bush to his peers on the angry left? As The Scrapbook has previously noted, now that Olbermann has returned to sports journalism with his talk show on ESPN, there’s much less of the manic self-importance that marked his political personality. Instead, he’s more like the funny-looking guy in a suit that first hit the scene more than 30 years ago—a self-effacing and unpredictable wiseguy who lived the dream of millions of American kids by getting paid to talk about sports all day. Go figure. As we said, baseball heals.