George Will has been covering elections and inaugurations for ABC News since the 1980s. In an ABC News web exclusive, Will discussed his favorite inaugural tradition, as well as his most memorable career moment, the future of the Republican Party, and, of course, baseball.
From the parade to the poet to the inaugural balls, inauguration weekend means many traditions. But Will says his favorite is the luncheon.
“I like the lunch afterwards. After he’s sworn in, he goes in, and sometimes they give real care and thought to the menu, sometimes replicating the menu of a 19th century inauguration,” he said. “It’s just a nice index of how the world changes.”
In 2009, the President Obama’s first inaugural celebrated the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln by serving some of Lincoln’s favorite foods, including pheasant and duck. This year the menu favors Northeast cuisine, including lobster and New England chowder.
See more of George Will’s responses to viewer questions from Facebook for the “This Week All Politics Is Social” web segment below.
What is the single most important thing the Republican Party should do to rehabilitate itself going into the midterms and the 2016 presidential race?
“If the Republicans are correct, and I think they largely are about the arithmetic of our public finances, arithmetic is going to vindicate the Republicans’ point of view. Critics of Paul Ryan, for example, say Paul Ryan would end Medicare as we know it. Arithmetic is going to end Medicare as we know it. It’s just a matter of time, and everyone, I think, realizes that.
“So first of all, Republicans have to wait on events to begin to vindicate their prophecies. Beyond that, they have to understand what worry Americans most are not things like individual tax rates, marginal tax rates on income. Large majority of Americans pay far more in payroll taxes than in income taxes. Great many Americans pay no income taxes. Sixty percent of Americans pay either less than 5 percent of their income in income taxes, or no income taxes. Rather, what worry them are the assault on their standard of living by a) rising college costs driven by the government. And rising healthcare costs. A great many American families feel they’re one catastrophic illness away from bankruptcy.”
What is the most memorable moment of your career?
“Most memorable moment was probably Election Night, 1980. It had nothing to do with me, it had to do with the American people. Because tremendous change in the country that was coming because Ronald Reagan had won… you could feel history coming. The staggering power of the American people. That’s a phrase that Walter Mondale used when conceding as Vice President when he and Jimmy Carter lost in 1980, referred to the “staggering power of the American people.” And on Election Night, you can feel that. Particularly on a night, and they’re reasonably rare, but on the nights when the country really does move.”
Knowing your love of baseball, what can you tell us about the legacy of Earl Weaver? (Weaver, a former Baltimore Orioles manager, passed away Saturday at 82).
“Tim Kurkjian, terrific baseball writer for ESPN, says — who knew Earl Weaver as I did — that Earl Weaver is one of the three greatest managers of all time… Earl Weaver understood the basic point of the Moneyball approach to baseball. Which is, people say baseball doesn’t have a clock. Earl Weaver understood it does have a clock and it has 27 ticks — they’re outs. And what you do is you run the game so as to maximize your chance of not making an out. Walks, on-base percentage, all the rest. Never bunt. You’ve got 27 outs, don’t give them away. So Earl was probably 30 years ahead of his time in his intuitive understanding of what Moneyball made explicit.”
What are the chances of a Washington Nationals appearance in the World Series next season?
“Well, particularly with the new trades and acquisitions, and re-signing [Adam] LaRoche, great first baseman who was probably their most valuable player last year, the Nationals are on paper the best team in the National League. Unfortunately, they don’t play the game on paper, they play it on grass and dirt. But even there the Nationals should be even better than last year. They’ll play in October.”
Watch George Will’s full interview here: