Feehery: Don’t call the game before it’s over

Feehery: Don’t call the game before it’s over
© Greg Nash

Thankfully, there is no mercy rule in politics. 

If there were, Republicans would already have lost their majority and Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiGOP strategist: Putin press conference 'made Trump look weak' Sanders advises Ocasio-Cortez: Keep doing what you've been doing Trump endorses Ohio candidate in special election MORE would be returning as Speaker.

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I coach my son’s Little League team, and we were hit by the mercy rule over the weekend.

We were down 14–4 after the end of the fifth inning, and under Little League mercy rules, we were supposed to be toast. 

The other coach asked if we wanted to keep playing, and speaking for the team, I said sure.

They scored one more run in their half of the inning, but we scored 11 in the last inning to tie the game.

Under the mercy rule, we may have lost, but in my book, we won a huge victory.

With the retirement of Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPelosi: 'Thug' Putin not welcome in Congress Interior fast tracks study of drilling's Arctic impact: report Dems unveil slate of measures to ratchet up pressure on Russia MORE, it is now conventional wisdom that the Democrats are a shoo-in to take back the House, and can immediately start impeachment proceedings against the president starting in January.

I have been a lonely voice in the wilderness, telling my friends and colleagues that all is not lost for the GOP, not yet at least.

And now I have some examples, courtesy of the Little League team, that keep hope alive in my mind for the Republicans this November.

First of all, my squad had one hit all game, leading up to the fifth inning, but we usually are a far better team than that. In fact, we average about 10 runs a game.

Likewise, Republicans aren’t in nearly as bad shape as the analysts would have you believe. Because of redistricting, they have a structural advantage that is not easy for the Democrats to overcome.

Sure, the party has been hit by some retirements, but most of those are in very safe Republican seats that the Democrats have no chance of winning.

Second, my best player gave up and, convinced that we were going to lose, refused to take the field in the top of the sixth. But then other players stepped up, including one kid, playing his first year of baseball, who made an incredible catch to stop a rally, and another reluctant youngster who pitched his first time ever and did very well.

Yes, Paul Ryan’s departure is a blow, but graveyards are full of so-called indispensable people. The fact is, other leaders will step up and lead the party.

I happen to think that the combination of Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyHouse leaders clash over resolution backing ICE House backs resolution expressing support for ICE House GOP reverses, cancels vote on Dem bill to abolish ICE MORE, Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseOvernight Energy: Proposed rule would roll back endangered species protections | House passes Interior, EPA spending | House votes to disavow carbon tax House votes to disavow carbon tax Why the rush to condemn a carbon tax? MORE and Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryOn The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Lawmakers demand answers from Mnuchin on tariffs | Fed chief lays out stakes of Trump trade war | Consumer prices rise at highest rate in six years | Feds to appeal AT&T merger ruling Musical instrument manufacturer threatens to move overseas due to Trump tariffs This week: House GOP caught in immigration limbo MORE is kind of like Tinkers to Evers to Chance. They know how to play the game and they are highly motivated to win in November. They perhaps won’t be as high-profile as the former vice presidential candidate, and it might take them some time to build the fundraising base of Mr. Ryan, but I am confident they can be very successful if they work as a team.

Finally, both Little League and politics can be wildly unpredictable.

Any coach can tell you that no lead is safe in a baseball game with 11- or 12-year-old kids on the mound.

I remember thinking, with the utmost confidence, that Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyGOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki Romney: Trump's remarks at Putin summit 'disgraceful and detrimental to democratic principles' Utah's largest paper compares child separation to war crimes in scathing editorial MORE was going to beat Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaSpicer maintains Trump inauguration had biggest audience in history Montana governor raises profile ahead of potential 2020 bid Trump was right to ditch UN’s plan for handling migrants MORE. I also couldn’t fathom how a war hero like George H.W. Bush could possibly lose to draft-dodging womanizer like Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonMontana governor raises profile ahead of potential 2020 bid Dem senator ties Kavanaugh confirmation vote to Trump-Putin controversy Don't place all your hopes — or fears — on a new Supreme Court justice MORE.

And how is that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCarter Page warrant reflects attack on our civil liberties Former Obama aide to Comey: 'No one is asking for your advice' Comey to Dems: 'Don't lose your minds and rush to the socialist left' MORE administration treating you?

Politics is an unpredictable business, and no lead is safe in the minds of a fickle public.

Here is my theory about this upcoming election: If the economy is perceived to be either strong or getting stronger by the majority of voters, Republicans will keep the House and expand their majority in the Senate.

The reason has nothing to do about the efficacy of the Trump tax cuts. When the economy is strong, voters focus on cultural and social issues, which tend to cut better for the GOP. When the economy is weak, voters turn to the Democrats, because they figure they will find ways to spend money to take care of them.

I am glad there is no mercy rule in politics. Let’s play this thing out and then see who wins and who loses in November.

Feehery is partner at EFB Advocacy and blogs at www.thefeeherytheory.com. He served as spokesman to former Speaker of the House Dennis HastertJohn (Dennis) Dennis HastertFeehery: The long game Feehery: Crowley lost because he’s Irish Feehery: The moral high ground MORE (R-Ill.), as communications director to former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) when he was majority whip and as speechwriter to former Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.).