The Obamas Police Food and Football (Updated)
Why their comments on Michael Vick and school lunches make us queasy.
December 28, 2010 - 2:17 pm
While one Obama says we can’t leave the eating habits of kids up to their own parents, another Obama congratulates a football team for hiring a quarterback with a criminal past. What to make of all this, and the uproar that has followed both?
Food and football are private affairs, and they’re as often as not connected to each other. We pig out when we watch football. They’re both a matter of individual taste. But thanks to Congressional hearings on steroid use among athletes, ObamaCare’s overreach into our health care, the FDA, the state near monopoly on primary education, and so forth and so on, both have become increasingly public issues, and more and more subject to government intervention and meddling.
It’s telling in some ways that President Obama even called up Philadelphia Eagles’ owner Jeff Lurie in the first place. They were mainly discussing the use of alternative energy at the Eagles’ home stadium, not Michael Vick’s second chance. Why should a president give a fig about what sort of energy gets used at a sports stadium? Because he’s a global warming zealot, and he actually thinks that his election will be marked as the time when the earth began to heal, because of his enlightened energy policies. How the Eagles power their lights and heat their hot dogs is all part of the system in which this president, more than most, feels drawn to intervene.
That President Obama weighed in on Vick’s second chance with the Eagles makes us squirm for several reasons. One, Vick’s appalling crimes put him outside the norm for sports criminals. Most sports criminals hurt themselves, and it usually costs them their careers. We are accustomed to sports figures using drugs, abusing spouses, gambling and assorted other sordid activities. We’re not accustomed to sports heroes torturing and murdering animals for fun and profit, but that’s what Michael Vick confessed to doing, and for which he served time. I’m fine with Vick getting his second chance even on the NFL team I loathe the most, but no one should be under any illusions about why the Eagles picked him up. Other teams, including the Falcons who arguably lost out the most when he went to prison, passed on Vick because they didn’t want their brands associated with him. Quarterbacks are the faces of NFL franchises. Before going to prison, Vick was a star among stars for his speed and elusiveness. He was the most electrifying player on the field.
Vick the dog torturer makes for a disturbing front man, regardless of how incredible his play is going forward. The Eagles picked him up mostly because they could. They rolled the dice. Vick 2.0 unexpectedly turned out to be better after his stint in prison than he was before. He seems to be making better decisions, and if anything his passing arm is much stronger than before. He’s turning out to be a brilliant quarterback. Lucky for the Eagles, then. But his second chance wasn’t done out of altruism. The Eagles want to win, and Vick is helping them do that. Both are making millions on the deal, which is fine.
Obama did not call up the owners of, say, the Texas Rangers to congratulate them for giving Josh Hamilton a second chance. Hamilton led that team to its first World Series appearance in its history. But Hamilton made some bad choices in life, and had his early MLB career derailed by drug and alcohol addiction. The Rangers took a chance on him and it paid off: He was brilliant at the plate in the 2010 American League playoffs, to the point that the New York Yankees wouldn’t even pitch to him in the ALCS. Where was President Obama’s call to Nolan Ryan, congratulating him for giving Hamilton a second chance?