Awkwardness

A history of politicians getting sports totally right

May 9, 2017
US-ELECTION-KERRY
LUKE FRAZZA

White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus reportedly emerged from the GOP’s House healthcare victory last week by telling a reporter, “The president stepped up and helped punt the ball into the end zone,” a statement that assumes:

  1. You can score touchdowns while punting.

  2. Punters have helpers, and . . .

  3. Trump wanted to… safely return the ball to the opposing team?

Whatever. We take Preibus’s meaning, and it’s entirely feasible he mixed up metaphors in the giddy thrill of getting a bill a third of the way to completion. But he’s the latest example of why politicians should stop with the bringing up of sports:

John Kerry: There are two things you don’t do in Michigan: Be in the Insane Clown Posse, and claim to be an Ohio State fan. Kerry did the second one, and honestly we’ve yet to see proof he hasn’t done the former. Kerry also once called Lambeau Field “Lambert,” to be cool. Also once called Michael Jordan “Aunt Sally.” OK, that last one didn’t happen, but it’s not too far off.

Ted Cruz: Thick in the midst of the GOP primary, Trump’s scowliest frenemy stepped to the stage in Indiana and — ignoring the silent pleas of all of Indiana who saw this about to unfold in horrible slow motion — crucified Gene Hackman’s speech before the championship game at the end of “Hoosiers:” “The amazing thing is, that basketball ring here in Indiana is the same height as it is in New York City and every other place in this country,” he said, pointing to what is commonly known as a “rim” or a “hoop.” Somewhere Dennis Hopper was feverishly jumping up and down on a bed, and by Dennis Hopper I mean me.

Donald Trump: Told one crowd Rex Ryan had won two championships in New York, by which he meant “Rex Ryan has never won a Super Bowl, or a division title.” Asked a crowd in Pittsburgh how Joe Paterno was doing, a nod to the coach who had been dead four years and died under the cloud of a decades-old child molestation scandal in a town several hours away. Real talk, though: Was a pretty good professional wrestler.

George Bush: Welcomed the Stanley Cup-winning Pittsburgh Penguins to the White House in 1991, asked who Mario Lemieux was.

Ted Kennedy: Referred to marquee MLB sluggers as “Mike McGwire” and “Sammy Sooser,” instead of their real names, “Two Cheats Everyone Has Forgotten.”

AFP/Getty Images

Mitt Romney: Gracefully burnishing his everyman credentials, Romney visited the Daytona 500 in 2012 and told reporters that while he doesn’t follow racing necessarily, he does “have some friends who are NASCAR team owners,” which is a little like saying, “I don’t follow baseball every day, but I am rich as f**k.” A few days earlier, he told a Detroit audience that his wife drives “a couple of Cadillacs.” Romney also kept referring to sports as “sport,” because he’s British.


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