The Jock-Sniffing Of Nixon … And Obama

Bryan Curtis pens a beaut of a piece about two "sports fan" presidents. I loved this nugget:

Obama had his sports powwow with Bill Simmons. In 1968, Nixon had his sports powwow with — wait for it — Hunter S. Thompson. The good doctor, who'd been picked from the press pool because he was the only one "seriously addicted" to football, got an audience with Nixon on a bus ride during the New Hampshire primaries. Thompson mentioned a wide receiver that had caught a pass in Super Bowl II. Nixon stunned Thompson not only by naming the receiver but his alma mater. "Whatever else might be said about Nixon — and there is still serious doubt in my mind that he could pass for Human — he is a goddamn stone fanatic on every facet of pro football," Thompson marveled.

And the politics of this?

Nixon and Obama got something even bigger out of being sports freaks. It allowed them to go one-on-one with their most deadly caricatures. Before his 1968 campaign, Nixon was cast as an inhuman pile of ambition forever molting into a "new Nixon." Obama, way more slanderously, has been called a Kenyan-born, madrassa-schooled non-American. It's no wonder the POTUSes never shut up about sports. Nixon talked football and got to be part of the silent majority. When Obama talks sports, he shows America his birth certificate.