Well, there goes the corn dog and trucker cap vote.
If Barack Obama does win the nomination and the Presidency, when he dies and goes to Presidential heaven, Teddy Roosevelt is going to be awaiting him with the mother of all bitch-slaps.
Not every President has to be an adherent of the Strenuous Life, but it helps that if they hum a few bars, he or she can fake it. All politics aside, Ronald Reagan swung a mean axe. George H.W. Bush may have had his manhood placed in a blind trust, as Garry Trudeau said, and couldn’t throw a baseball to save his life, but most people knew his bonafides as a fighter pilot and the fact that he bobbed for hours in the ocean hoping for rescue before the Japanese got to him. Richard Nixon probably killed a man or two with his bare hands, and even if he didn’t you knew he could make one phone call and it would be done. George W. Bush harvests a lot of brush on his ranch (even if there’s a haunting reminiscence of Nero watching him on one of his record number of vacation days in Crawford). Even Jimmy Carter was no Mr. Majestyk, but we all know he’s pretty damned good with a framing hammer.
If you’re the leader of the Free World, you have to go toe to toe with no shortage of thugs and dictators with a lifetime of blood on their hands. Roundhouse them with your intellect, sucker-punch them with righteous indignation, body-slam them with moral outrage, but if they don’t think you can at least hold your own with them in arm wrestling, you’ve got a credibility gap they can drive an armored personnel carrier through.
Senator Obama made a campaign stop at an Altoona, Pennsylvania, bowling alley and, in seven frames, racked up an abysmal 37. Thirty-seven. That’s barely five pins a frame. Sixth grade girls everywhere were no doubt high-fiving one another, and if there weren’t a Secret Service detail there to Taze them and have them removed to a black dungeon where their parents wouldn’t see them for weeks, there were surely a handful of them in that Altoona bowling alley who were just itching to get up in his skinny face and tell him the brother ain’t got no game.
Apparently worse than his score was his form. Joe Scarborough derided Obama’s delivery as “dainty.” If you’re going to get the attention and the respect of Kim Jong-Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, “dainty” isn’t going to pay the fare.
Indeed, I’ve seen the footage and it isn’t pretty. Or rather, it’s a little too pretty. He approaches the lane very nearly on tip-toes, like he’s trying not to wake his children on Christmas Eve when he puts their presents out. His isn’t a hurling release, but a timid fling of the ball that puts a grandmotherly kiss on the lane rather than an authoritative six-foot launch that grabs the lumber with an guttural and churning counter-spin that grinds its way toward the pins. Even a galoot lob that lands like a cement basketball would be more masculine than his almost-prancing and sissified roll.
According to Presidential lore, Lyndon Johnson once grabbed the neck of one of his Fed chairmen who wouldn’t lower a key interest rate in anticipation of the election. He never would have bowled a 37, that’s for certain. If he’d bowled anything less than a 150, he would have blamed his shoes and grabbed the bowling alley attendant by his spindly neck and demanded his deposit back.
Michael Dukakis lost the election the moment he appeared looking like a helmeted Lilliputian in the tank. This is an ignominious end to a heretofore-brilliant Obama campaign once this bowling outing really starts making the round on YouTube. It’s really a damned shame that it has to end like this, but we’re electing a President here. This isn’t a little girl party.
Senator, hand in your Man Card. You’re fired.
APRIL FUEL: With her lead over Obama narrowing in the lead-up to the April 22 Pennsylvania primary, Hillary took on Obama’s embarrassing bowling outing under the auspices of an “April Fool’s” joke that made sure that her allegedly-friendly jabbing pierced some vital organs. “I am challenging Senator Obama to a bowl off. A bowling night right here in Pennsylvania. Winner take all. I’ll even spot him two frames.” Yuk. Ha-ha. Good clean fun. Then came the Hillary solar plexus-punch line. “It’s time for his campaign to get out of the gutter and allow all of the pins to be counted.”
CROCKY: If you’re going to deploy a sports metaphor to describe your underdog campaign, it’s generally advised to pick one where the protagonist wins in the end. In what many thought was really an April Fool’s twist, Hillary appeared in Pennsylvania today with Bill Conti’s Rocky theme. I’m not the first to point out that Rocky Balboa lost that fight in the first Rocky. This isn’t a campaign that has thought a lot of these things through. They’re surely having a meeting about this tonight, and–mark my words on this–they’ll be out tomorrow with “Eye Of The Tiger” from Rocky III. It doesn’t hurt that Mr. T’s Clubber Lang was also a black man.