Thursday, April 22, 2010

Field of Schemes II: Obama's Not a Natural-Born Man

The other week, while talking to a friend of mine, I extolled the awesomeness of the multiple baseball games I could watch on Opening Day with MLB Extra Innings, and expressed dismay that my backlog of article ideas seemed to be all book reviews. At this moment, President Obama threw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals' home opener, and I thought, "Hel-lo, let's see what's happening at the National Review."

A little over a month ago, Mr. Awesome had this idea about Newsweek: "I bet I could go to Newsweek.com, like, right now, and the first story I'd see would be a complete puff piece with no information or insight." He's right, and to a certain extent, this is always true of the National Review and the Weekly Standard. Only instead of puff pieces without information, the daily fare is venomous attack propped up by fraudulent claims to research, baseless appeals to history or the rich chutzpah of either lies "linked" to sourced material or spun from whole cloth. It's just as vacuous as Newsweek, but the vacuity is tinged with contempt and malevolence. It's like the difference between staring at an empty cardboard box or at an empty shipping crate studded with rusted nails and graffitied with death's heads and a picture of someone having sex with your mother.

Anybody could write two articles per day, forever, just refreshing the Weekly Standard or National Review and breaking down the current iteration of craven dishonesty. The trouble is that it's exhausting. American conservatives are on to a sweet deal, here: making shit up is not a time-intensive gig. And somehow the burden of proof always falls on the people who note the absence of credibility. Forthright people are probably already busy reading difficult books with facts in them, so merely trying to course-correct the national dialogue involves doubling their workload. For the most part, this is why I don't bother. I have shit to do, like write about Amish pornography.

There is one topic, however, where conservative hysteria manages to dovetail with stuff I'm already doing work on. That's sports, and by "work," I mean, "I watch a lot of them." Conservatives obsess over Obama's sports ability only in part because they're ever in search of new and more exotic bases for attack. They have ugly psychological issues which compel them to conspicuous schadenfreude whenever the president does something remotely athletic, however tenuously connected to reality their reaction may be. They did this last year with the president's first pitch at the All-Star Game, even going so far as to declare the objective existence of thousands of liberal American sportswriters engaged in an elaborate conspiracy to cover-up the president's "real" athletic ability. And they howled this same complaint again this year with his first pitch at the Nationals' opener. They are compulsively weird and petty about this.

They harp on the real athlete and real man, neatly summarizing the catty and elliptical conservative obsession with Obama and his credentials for governance. They want to use sports and masculinity as avenues of attack on Obama's narrative, to question whether it's interwoven in the American tapestry (it's not), to question whether he is an American reality. While Obama has called upon some masculine and macho American sports-type tropes in his speeches, he obviously doesn't wrestle with the concept and instead sees it as a verbal tool. It's not Obama who struggles to parse the word "macho" to include some Americans and not others. And judging by how he can laugh off clumsiness after a bad pitch, it's not Obama who's consumed with worry over being a mensch.

So why do conservatives care about this? Who's the most macho president is a question asked and answered solely by the most useless people imaginable. The mental storage space of someone who evaluates administrative and command decisions after factoring the encumbrance of a vest into the calculation of how "awesome" a president is when throwing a goddamn ball is an unserious person unencumbered with thoughts of any impact to anybody. Anyone measuring a capacity to govern in numbers of collected White Sox baseball cards instantly disposes of any claim to legitimacy regarding virtually anything. They are playing Presidential Dungeons & Dragons with phantom players. They've leveled up into Tax-Cut Wizards, hoping to roll a Natural 40 to attack a sitting president blissfully unaware of the contest.

The "real American male" presidential tactic certainly can't be worth it on appearances alone. Bringing up the masculinity aspect of elected Democratic officials seems like a losing gambit when the president is a relatively (for politics) young man who plays a high-energy team sport for fun all the time. It's a losing gambit when your party is viewed as the refuge of slowly collapsing elderly white men, only some of whom look like turtles. It's a losing gambit when your last presidential nominee repeatedly has cancers cut out of his face, walks with a hunch and can't lift his arms. It's a losing gambit when your ideological hero ascended to the presidency at age 69 and left it in his 70s and is the arguably most famous person to contract Alzheimer's, which did little to differentiate his power of recall from the selective senility he displayed regarding criminal arms trade with a state in the Axis of Evil. Speaking of the administration who coined that term, the macho thing comes off as a dud when the role of Secretary of Defense was filled from 2001-2006 by Skeletor, who retired from the job at 74 years of age. He didn't really retire, though. He was probably pushed out by the Vice-President: Heart Attack Man.

If only to make a clear note emerge from the cognitive dissonance, you almost want to chalk this up to a racial thing. A virile black man threatens them. He plays that inner city thug game. But, worse, he has a lot of power and looks good without a shirt. White women will want to sleep with him. Our white women. But while that's probably true for a small segment of the conservative blogosphere, it's not a reasonable representation of the whole. The best explanation, the only one that seems to accord with this spiteful need to tear down Obama while weakly offering false-equivalents to promote their "real" macho and "real" Americanism is this: Obama represents everything they believe in, achieved by someone who isn't them.

It's easy to see this in the two niche outlets providing this coverage. There's the Weekly Standard, which is rumored to stay afloat on an annual subsidy from Rupert Murdoch. Even if he doesn't contribute, countless conservatives do, as the magazine has been a commercial failure from the start. It began hemorrhaging over a million dollars per year in 2003, which is hardly surprising given that its reported subscribership is 65,000 people. Instead, it functions as little more than a lobbying group that accepts grants that its weathly donors can write off for tax purposes. Even the venerable National Review fares only a little better. It has 155,000 readers, but it also receives grants. You can even give them one yourself right now, on their website.

Taken together, the two magazines have a combined subscribership of 210,000 people. According to the current US Population Clock, that's merely 1 in 1,472 Americans — or 0.0679% of America. Their impact in any truly democratic sense runs the gamut from barely discernible to meaningless. At most they are, respectively, sinecures for a man whose career relies on trading on his father's works and a group of also-ran thinkers retreading dead old William F. Buckley and dead old Ayn Rand for a new generation of people constitutionally incapable of encountering a dissonant fact or an atmosphere without affirmation. And they have failed.

Both these outlets embrace an ideology of competition, of value as set by the marketplace. But they have never been able to survive the marketplace. Their existence has always relied on the self-interested largesse of oligopoly. That the darwinism of the marketplace they advocate would logically preclude their own existence is an irony secondary only to the Standard and Review's continued dependence on subsidies from the exact sorts of business interests most threatened by the readers of meaningful journalism, a market that has already evaluated their works and found them wanting.

Obama draws their petty ire because the man is a market player. He's lived their core narrative so well as to come to dominate them. He was man of limited means and a broken family. He was hindered by a society that discriminated on race and not only earned himself a first-class education but won a state and national senatorial seat and then was elected President of the United States, at age 47. Sixty-nine million people decided he was the person most fit to lead, over a field of old-guard powers and established brands. It's no overstatement to suggest he represents the apotheosis of the compelling leader and self-made man, the character conservatives portray in their welfare theater, the person who has a natural right to determine the future of a nation.

Hence people like the Standard and Review's Jeffrey Anderson and Daniel Foster's snipes about Obama's manliness, especially in relation to America's National Pastime. (See more below.) Suggesting he's not a real American man is just a genteel, Buckleyite and toned-down way of saying he isn't even an American by birth. The first is a social assertion, and the second is a legal one, but as men who understand neither system, the notes sound the same to their dead ears. At the same time, it feeds the comforting fiction that they have not lost, that their supposedly inviolate and exclusive right to control the corridors of power has not been legitimately abridged. Obama cheated, somehow — perhaps with the complicity of the same "liberal" media eager to disappear footage of ill-tossed baseballs. He convinced everybody he's something he's not. He proffered and represents an ignoble lie.

In the meantime, the solution to their temporary and illegitimate setback is providing the readership with coverage of the president's errant throwing arm and waiting for the votes to flow rightward. You know, just hanging out, being stupid and useless, caring about dumb shit, writing badly. Time to self-importantly inveigh about what makes a red-blooded American male for a hobbyist publication built out of a legacy by Bill Kristol, a second-generation New York City Jew who sounds like an inexplicably gayer Waylon Smithers and sports a smile as grotesque as the cartoon Joker's. Better to castigate the weak of arm, limp of wrist and weak of spirit in the pages of a journal founded by William F. Buckley, a New York and Connecticut patrician whose enunciation was so affected that he sounded like Margaret Thatcher doing drag.

That's real leadership and real insight. And you can reward it with real money. This is what really successful people do to make real money in the marketplace. Logically, whatever Anderson and Foster do is what successful and worthy people do to make money in the real world. When your job is lurking in the servants' quarters and pecking into the night to affirm the lives of those born on third base, it's obvious that you work in service to world-class ballers.

But, look, let's not take my word for it. Let's go to the articles.


Obama's Basketball Skills: Are they better than his baseball skills?
This first one comes courtesy of the Weekly Standard and someone named Jeffrey H. Anderson. I tried Googling Mr. Anderson to see what he was about, but apparently the only other people on the planet willing to pay him to put his name above words is the National Review. It's one of the peculiarities of the "established" neoconservative journalism community that their broad market appeal sees them tackling issues from two or three different magazines that say the same things to the same group of people. Of course, it's probably harder for most of these guys who aren't Bill Kristol — who can't found magazines like the Standard on the basis of papa's name — to get jobs outside this narrow band. They can't take a brand they didn't earn and sell it to someone else, mainly since most of them give the impression that you couldn't trust them to accurately make change for a dollar in a 99-cent store in a state without sales tax.

Anyhow, Jeffrey decides that Obama's throwing a very high and very outside (bad) ceremonial first pitch is evidence of some overall nefariousness and a backdoor excuse to dissect his game of POTUS (a modified version of the game HORSE), during the NCAA Championship Game's halftime, with former NBA Player and Big Ten MVP Clark Kellogg. It was a CBS fluff piece for the game's halftime festivities, but Kellogg started out schooling the president, before Obama got hot and started draining threes. Since the president likes to constantly trash talk, the video was edited down to fit in CBS' programming window. Jeffrey Anderson knows in his heart that this explanation is a lie:

After having seen the president try to throw a baseball, I must confess to having been mildly surprised to see some degree of coordination on display in his shooting a basketball. Still, I can't resist asking a few questions about the president's "shooting competition" versus Clark Kellogg:
Nice. Scare quotes. Also, maybe jam some more words in there in case nobody's yet aware you're an enormous fucking dweeb. Like, "After bearing witness to the presidents attempts to hurl a baseball successfully towards a catching specialist, it is with heavy heart that I confess to having been mildly surprised — indeed, yes, fair reader — to see blorrrrghghwaauugh."

Sniffing condescendingly is a time-honored practice. But this guy is tremendously bad at condescension. The effortful prolixity of what is supposed to be effortless snark is palpable. He doesn't sniff dismissively so much as snort great, warthoggy nose guffaws. Like a bad soap opera actor playing a rich jerk, he oversells the condescension so badly it suggests less a mindset and more a sinus infection.

It's a workmanlike start for him. It's got the sighing paternalism of someone who has to express disappointment in a student's performance and then astonishment at a scintilla of the student's natural talent peeking through. Best of all, it starts off by linking two unconnected things to add a pointless insult, as if talent at a former task has anything to do with a latter one. I avoided the Weekly Standard during the sales pitch for "The Surge," but I'm sure they used these same techniques in a favorable light. Like: "Having seen President Bush unfortunately hook an approach shot on the 9th green, I was delighted to see him later riding a bike without veering to the left. Instead, he stayed the course, moving ever forward. As we must, for the freedom of the Iraqi people."


1. Why wear shorts on Air Force One in Europe -- and regularly not wear ties at events of a somewhat formal nature -- and then wear a tie to play hoops?
Who fucking cares?

This is the big-picture GOP at work, always keeping its eyes on the thighs. Are they clad? Are they scandalously bare? How dare someone not want to wrinkle up his Hickey Freeman on his own private plane if he's going to be in the air for a while? And I have here a color-coded chart of the Formality Advisability Level showing that Obama's choices of khakis have been inappropriate on as many as three occasions, just as his absence of ties precludes him from matching the color of a tasteful lapel flag pin. Finally, as to his wearing suits to shoot a basketball while lightly jumping in place, please don't give me this "he's the leader of the free world, maybe he's fucking busy and just walked outside from the Oval Office in what he was wearing." This is yet another time Obama failed to embrace our traditional values. When President McKinley engaged in a "tip-off" with James Naismith, he did it in knee-high breeches as befits the solemnity of the office.


2. Has President Obama ever played basketball on a team in a meaningful way? Sports Illustrated describes his having been on the "jayvee as a sophomore" at his high school in Hawaii, having made "second varsity" as a junior -- SI explains that the "school fielded multiple teams in some sports" -- and having finally made the varsity during a season spent "largely on the bench" as one of the "pine-riders." (And this is Hawaii -- hardly a rival of Indiana or North Carolina when it comes to hoops hotbeds.)
Apparently Anderson's familiarity with Obama's biography extents to a magazine article he likely Googled about 10 minutes before writing the above words. But that's fine. He only claims to be a political journalist, so it's not like he'd have time to read any of that stuff anyway. I mean, it took me a solid day to read a single Obama biography, one that was available a month in advance of its publication to any media reviewer or political blogger, and said (emphasis mine):
On the varsity team, Barry played under Chris McLachlin, a locally celebrated coach with a sympathetic manner and a distinctly old-school approach to the game...

Obama hustled in practice and he impressed his teammates with his fluidity and an odd, but effective, double-pump jump shot that he took in the lane off the dribble. He had skill and drive, but because the team was so packed with exceptional talent—three players on the starting five in his senior year went on to play serious college ball, and one forward, John Kamana, went on to a career in professional football—Obama did not get nearly as much playing time as he wanted...

"He argued for more playing time, even called a meeting for him and a couple of others" [McLachlin said]. "He respectfully lobbied for their case, and rightfully so... He would have started for anyone else in the state." (p. 91-2)
Although technically I guess Anderson would only have needed to read about 90 minutes or so to get to that page. Facts. Whatever.

Hawaii doesn't have a real basketball program. Is it Indiana? If he played basketball, did he play it under Bobby Knight? And if we find out he's any good at football, can you tell me he played for the Crimson Tide under Bear Bryant? I bet you can't. Granted, I've heard tell that Obama likes golfing, but I bet he didn't even study it from that swell fellow Bagger Vance. Hawaii isn't even a real state anyway. They have UHC, so they probably don't even exist at this point. I expect the cast of LOST to find the millions of corpses any day now. Speaking of where the bodies are buried, why hasn't Obama released his high school basketball records? What does he have to hide?


3. As a lefty, why release your jump-shot from the right side of your head?
Why did Luis Tiant turn his back to the plate? Why did Juan Marischal unsteady himself with such a high leg kick? Why did Magic do the baby hook when he wasn't being blocked up top, even though it was the sort of shot that afforded him less control? Of course, I ask this purely academically, as basketball is a game for black people and thus purely theoretical. I mean, if you're a righty, you'd never switch your racquet to your left hand to double-forehand a game.


4. Can the president dribble with his right hand at all (and I'm not speaking figuratively)?
This is the question, and this is the joke. This is what someone was paid to think was probative and funny and not actually really stupid.


5. Why was it that Clark Kellogg, whose shots were repeatedly flicking the bottom of the net as he built up a P-O-T-U (H-O-R-S) lead -- much of it off-camera -- barely able to draw iron after that? (This is not a tough question.) Relatedly, has President Obama recently played in a basketball game, or even a shoot-around, in which someone actually tried to beat him? I would love to see such a game take place.
This isn't a tough question, because Anderson has already given you the answer. Granted, he hasn't given it explicitly. In another typical tactic of the conservative blogger without fact or curiosity, he has offered his readership a gentleman's handshake, whereby he gives them the implication and they make the inference. Everyone who plays against the president at every sport tries to lose. When they are unsuccessful at this — because this is how profoundly bad the president is at everything — the studio steps in to edit out the record of his failure. Granted, he's not saying that, he's just asking questions. You ever notice how kids love dinosaurs and how there are never any live dinosaurs around Obama, and he controls the CDC, which is allowed to kill "unwanted animals"? You ever notice how sad it is when children cry?

Look I'm not saying there's a mound of spent shell casings from where the President shot and missed at an adorable little baby dinosaur. I'm not saying the Secret Service wasn't standing there, clutching a pack of screaming children, tears fogging the insides of their Secret Service sunglasses. I'm not saying that after the POTUS missed repeatedly, a shaking Secret Service agent had to raise his pistol and execute the last living proof of God's miraculous creation of His prehistoric green Earth. I'm just saying that that black motherfucker's wearing shorts and a tie. You do the math.


Obama's Eephus Pitch
So much for Mr. Anderson. Next up is Daniel Foster, from the National Review, who thankfully keeps the insipidity brief, at least in one piece:

Watching the president throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Nats game yesterday, I couldn't help but think of President Bush's first turn at that task. Yankee Stadium in October of 2001, under much different circumstances. As Bush chatted with the Yanks in their clubhouse before the game, he was reportedly told by Derek Jeter that, if he missed the plate, he'd be booed — "United We Stand" or not. As you can see, though he was burdened with heavy body armor under his FDNY fleece, Bush didn't miss the plate. He fired a sinker in there for a belt-high strike. Just sayin'.
Sure, Obama never played any kind of organized baseball. Sure, Bush was a lifelong baseball enthusiast who owned a fucking baseball team. The two guys are practically identical in experience. Yet Obama comes up short. Just sayin'. Wait—what's that? Can Bush dunk and post up on a whiteboy? Uh, he pretty obviously can, since I just established their equivalency. My president can beat up your president.

And yes I remember very clearly when the president threw a baseball nine years ago. And yes, of course I remember what he was wearing (it most certainly wasn't shorts). Who wouldn't? What are you suggesting?


Obama's 'Fake Macho'
Foster's second offering is much worse, if only by dint of being longer. I'll grant that he wrote only the introductory and concluding paragraphs, but this is evidently the sort of thing he considers insightful, so it's just as good an indicator of his cretinism. Take us away, the sort of person who writes encouraging fan mail to the National Review:

Obama, Rahm, Biden, Gibbs and probably some of the rest of the administration suffer from a severe fake macho complex. I think I've just invented a term here, so let me explain. Fake macho is the act of engaging in stereotypical male activities with great fanfare and publicity.
I WAS IN THE SHOWER LOOKING AT MY DICK AND SUDDENLY IT HIT ME: PEOPLE LIKE TO DEMONSTRATE THEY'RE MASCULINE... WHEN THEY WORRY THEY'RE NOT!


Bush, by all accounts, is a fitness enthusiast. Yet, I don't remember hearing as much about his activities as I do about Obama. Bush quietly woke up early every morning and hopped on the stationary bike.... Thus, his first pitch entailed walking to the mound, throwing the pitch and walking away. It was simple and serious; consistent with activity that is done often and sincerely. It did not come across as purely for show.
Yeah, look, sure the guy cleared brush at Crawford and used chainsaws to cut down trees, something he could have paid a migrant worker to do for ten dollars an hour at most. But this was earnest work. Real work. Work a man does because he has to, in front of a camera crew. Not because he wanted to. And when he threw a ceremonial first pitch at the World Series immediately after 9/11 — as one does often — he did it to send a message to America that he wasn't afraid and that our proud traditions would continue onward. But he didn't do it for show. He did it because he knew he had a penis.


By contrast, I know every team that Obama follows in all of his favorite sports. I can tell you how his final four brackets looked the past two years.
I do not know how to turn off a television program or stop reading an article whose contents I do not like.


I know that he enjoys golfing much more than Bush and plays basketball on a regular basis with other guys (and only guys!)
Pffffft. Only guys? Fag.


within the administration and Congress. Thus, he trots out there for his first pitch and engages in silly theatrics.
Because the president has favorite teams in favorite sports, enjoys trying to predict who's going to be in the final brackets during the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament, likes playing golf a lot and has a regular pick-up basketball game with members of the administration and Congress, it affects how he walks to the mound of a baseball diamond and explains his interest in what I have determined to be silly theatrics. He has a law degree from Harvard; thus he likes tacos. His daughters are named Sasha and Malia; consequently, I bet he totally couldn't frag anybody in Team Fortress 2. His middle name is Hussein, so he's muslim. He's from Hawaii, so he's Indonesian. I can't compose a thought without faulty syllogisms, so I'm probably a fucking moron.


He even brought his own props! (Oh and look, it is that same Chicago White Sox gag he did last time.)
Yeah, it was a gag. It's not that the White Sox are the local team from the area of the country he's lived in for the longest part of his life, especially after growing up in a state without a local team and then making only pit stops for a couple years in three different cities. It's a joke, some silly artifice. He couldn't actually just really like one team and want to show his sports authenticity by proudly wearing his favorite cap or replica jersey regardless of where he is — as millions of American sports fans do.

Naturally, this guy would probably be the first to slam the president for nakedly trying to ingratiate himself with the crowd if he wore the home team's hat and starter jacket to every game. That would be evidence of Obama's desperately trying to ward off boos and hide evidence of his diminishing popularity by swaddling himself in emblems of the hometown favorite. Of course, he doesn't have to make this argument, because it's identical to one made by a National Review writer after last year's All Star Game (and one adopted by the birther crowd as of a piece with his chameleon-esque foreign spy mission). It doesn't matter if Obama wears the same team logo everywhere he goes or switches up wherever he goes. Both are evidence that he's not fit to be president, and he isn't even a man, because apparently this shit matters.


Then Obama throws a horrible pitch, laughs and almost makes a little-girl-like "oops" gesture with his hand over mouth.
Yeah, or maybe he was laughing because he knew he blew it, even after going through some practice tosses. Maybe, like billions of people, he self-consciously laughs when he makes a mistake of cosmic unimportance but does so in front of people. The obverse behavior would be stone-facing through the mistake and refusing to acknowledge it, which would only be leapt on as evidence of his imperial hauteur and unconcern with the interests of the average American. "The rules don't apply to Barack Obama." Thank goodness they don't apply to his critics either.


Certainly some of these are natural things that men enjoy; but endlessly promoting them in a "hey, look I'm a real man" manner is downright creepy. This is fake macho.
Now if only he could do something real macho — like be the best defended man on the planet surrounded by the world's most powerful conventional- and nuclear-weapons arsenal and bait a dozen cave dwellers and people armed with small explosives and cell phones to "bring it on." Like be a septuagenarian who kept having polyps cut out of his ass and hiss, "Go ahead, make my day," in imitation of a brutal, law-ignoring vigilante policeman from a fictional story. Like any comment Rudy Giuliani has made about terror using a word with a sibilant in it.

Foster — not satisfied to let his REAL MAN emailer, who wrote this takedown of fake men from the luxury of anonymity — has to tack on a final say:


I will not myself go so far as to question the masculinity of POTUS, or even his sincerity as a White Sox fan,
(but I will publish an anonymous email doing just that because I enjoy being really unsubtle and cowardly about stupid crap,)


but I will note that in a post-pitch interview, he had trouble naming a single White Sox player.
Annnnnnnd here comes the completely useless lie, because of course the interview to which Foster refers, one he has evidently never seen, is on video. What a REAL MAN — a man who not only watches baseball when the president is pitching but also watches the nine innings of the actual baseball game that follow it — would have noticed is Obama joining Nationals' play-by-play man Bob Carpenter and color commentator Rob Dibble and talking about fucking baseball for seven minutes.

The first thing he mentions is that he's a White Sox fan, and he has to wear the colors so he doesn't upset Jerry Reinsdorf. You know, real elementary-level baseball joke there, namedropping an owner. He doesn't name a White Sox player who was his favorite growing up, but that's because he didn't grow up in Chicago and lived over 4,000 miles away in a town without a local team. He busts on Wrigley field and Cubs fans, like just about everyone who watches baseball and is not a Cubs fan. Carpenter and Dibble also notice that he must be a pretty big fan of White Sox starting pitcher Mark Buehrle. He is. He's named Buehrle as a favorite player in the past. You can even be a casual fan and pick this up, since Obama praised Buehrle during the 2009 All-Star Game broadcast while in the booth alongside Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, as Buehrle pitched a perfect inning for the AL. He even noted that Buehrle had struggled in a previous start against Minneapolis, a fact neither Buck nor McCarver seemed the slightest bit concerned with or aware of, because they arrive at a National Review-level of baseball ignorance and incompetence without a lot of fancy degrees but with a lot of sheer natural hustle. And grit.

Even if that isn't enough for you, there's the fact that Obama clearly mentions that the White Sox need to produce more on offense and pitching-wise need to get reliable performances out of closer Bobby Jenks. (True.) He doesn't mention Buehrle or Jake Peavy with respect to pitching, because they are both solid starters (one a career outstanding #2 starter, the other a former ace) and virtually guaranteed to pitch at levels other teams will resent and envy. The Sox have great starting pitching. And even if that weren't sufficient, there's the fact that after the interview ended, Carpenter and Dibble commented on how Obama recognized Nationals players who had been on the 2005 White Sox team that won the World Series, enthusiastically greeted them in the clubhouse before the game and thanked them for the Series win. Unfortunately, this isn't on the video, but you could learn this by watching the actual game, like a REAL MAN.
___________________

This last detail summarizes perhaps better than anything else the Weekly Standard and the National Review's frequent standards of discourse. The beginning of Foster's final comment tries to excuse itself with a transparent feint at decorum, deploring the scurrilous level of insinuation about the president that — shockingly! — can be found within the paragraphs of that very same column. This is the way white people cheap shot; they think anonymously writing "YOU'RE GAY" on a letter of introduction and sending it to the other side of the room on a salver makes the tactic any less thuggish, empty and inane.

Emptiness likewise attends every other part of Foster's insinuation. He relies on a fact that is not, depending wholly on an audience's desires to passively receive both information and a gloss on its "true" interpretation. He's all too happy to link a video where Obama's pitch sails wide, but he won't link a video of the interview that gainsays the meat of his point. This would be research, made out of facts, both of which preclude just making shit up.

Finally, the whole examination is couched in terms of what real men do in the real America about real American sports, but it offers a sports world without insight or fact. Dragging sports into it any more thoroughly than cheap metaphor and a ceremonial pitch would only further preclude making shit up, because any protracted dalliance with the specifics of the White Sox or even baseball in general would immediately broadcast the commentator's inauthenticity. It's rhetorical and intellectual slumming, like when an investment banker describes spending two hours in a luxury box after arriving late and before leaving early as "going out to the ballpark to soak in some rays and get a dog." Only in this case, he explains that his sitting in the luxury box is for the benefit of the people in the bleachers.

It's lazy and stupid, which is why it's so easy to write. A rudimentary knowledge of Obama's biography, a three-quarter-assed glance at any footage of substance and even a passing familiarity with baseball would prevent most people from mentioning the conclusions in the above columns aloud, let alone putting them on paper. But not the Weekly Standard and National Review. In their case, it's even easier to write. When you define yourself as the party of hard realist truths and then lose anyway, obviously the rest of the world must be completely imaginary. Whatever you describe it as being like can have no consequence.

10 comments:

  1. Enjoyed the whole thing, but some highlights for me: even if Obama were freaking Jan Michael Vincent in "The World's Greatest Athlete" the wingnuts would bash something. Like, if he tried to ride a horse, or if he went to the racetrack and his horse lost, or if he got pulled too hard by his dog, Bo, and looked nerdy. Hell, they mocked him for how he rode a normal bike because he was (gasp!) wearing a helmet, and you know REAL MEN DON'T WEAR HELMETS.

    As far as letting Obama win, if that's the case in the "Horse" challenge or any time on the court with his pals; this is never done on the golf course in corporate America? Seriously!?!

    I play golf, tennis, softball, volleyball and ran track years ago, and I would love to throw the first pitch at a ML ballgame and I would reach the catcher; however, I couldn't make a 3-point shot at gunpoint. I can't even dribble well. It's not the same skill set.

    Your analysis of their petty jealousy and hypocrisy is right on the money. In a "fair market" world, these clowns couldn't write for a neighborhood newspaper in Iowa.

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  2. Also, let's face it, if these guys have ever done anything related to sports, those days are long behind them, so who are they to talk about anyone else's manliness, even on their own chosen terms?

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  3. Have any comment on left mags like The Nation, which also has about 150,000 subscriptions and a reliance on donations?

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  4. Have any comment on left mags like The Nation, which also has about 150,000 subscriptions and a reliance on donations?
    Since they aren't obsessed with fabricating tales about Obama's unmanliness and unAmericanness? No.

    Also, since they don't characterize dependency as theft, demonize people who need assistance and consider anything that cannot be monetized and sold at a profit valueless to society — and, thus, aren't nauseating hypocrites? No.

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  5. @loretta
    As far as letting Obama win, if that's the case in the "Horse" challenge or any time on the court with his pals; this is never done on the golf course in corporate America? Seriously!?!
    I meant to reply to you earlier but got bogged down in other work, but I just wanted to say that I wish I'd thought of this observation. Thank you.

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  6. @Thomas,
    Also, let's face it, if these guys have ever done anything related to sports, those days are long behind them, so who are they to talk about anyone else's manliness, even on their own chosen terms?
    Hi, Thomas. Thanks for the comment. I don't think it excuses it, but I think that baseball is more open to this kind of comment than other sports. Baseball is something that most American men probably played a little of, and it's far less taxing physically than hockey, basketball or football. Hence, there's kind of an aura around it that it's the sort of game any of us could play. As such, you get a lot more angry comment about it.

    I hate to just make this an advertisement for another thing I wrote, but I went into it here, in a review of Will Leitch's God Save the Fan from about two years ago. The explanation comes near the bottom, but I think this is an attitude that begins with sportswriters and filters down into the consciousness. Even soccer filters the Haves from the Have Nots before puberty. Baseball is the last preserve of the husky and slow. Well, before golf.

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  7. "Bush didn't miss the plate. He fired a sinker in there for a belt-high strike. Just sayin'."

    If any pitcher in the majors fired a "sinker" that crossed the plate belt-high it would be crrru-ushed over any wall the batter wanted, just sayin'.

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  8. bush couldnt even ride a segway. and how many times did he crash his bike? and he was a cheerleader.

    yea! our political philosophy is superior.

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  9. ahahahaha nice. I totally forgot about the cheerleader thing. And the bike.

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Et tu, Mr. Destructo? is a politics, sports and media blog whose purpose is to tell jokes or be really right about things. All of us have real jobs and don't need the hassle that telling jokes here might occasion, which is why some contributors find it more tasteful to pretend to be dead mass murderers.