Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Super Bowl XLIII & Red Vs. Blue

To paraphrase the Prussian military strategist Clausewitz: Sports are politics continued by another means. This was driven home recently by Super Bowl XLIII when Arizona red state senators McCain and Kyle rejected an invitation by blue state President Obama to join him at the White House to view the game. Neither of these red state senators actually attended the game in Tampa – apparently, like Greta Garbo, THEY VANTED TO BE ALONE.

Apart from this, there were other aspects that gave this particular super bowl a political twinge that did not seem apparent in past games. The Pittsburgh Steelers were from blue state Pennsylvania and the Cardinals were from red state Arizona. The owner of the Steelers, Dan Rooney, though historically a Republican, was an unabashed Obama supporter. Both Obama and Biden, neither from Pennsylvania, were outspoken, public rooters for the Steelers.

There is speculation that the owner, Irish American Rooney, is slated to become US ambassador to Ireland. It would be an error as it would be a matter of time before Rooney started batting for Ireland rather than home team US. Blood still is thicker than water.

The Steeler team was led by a young black coach, M. Tomlin, with two senior, over sixty, white offensive and defensive coaches – a politically correct teamwork fusion. It seemed to work, albeit the Steelers won just by the skin of their teeth in a very exciting game.

General Saveus Petraeus was there saluting, in a full class A uniform and flipped the coin at the opening of the game. His presence, a symbol of pro war Iraqi sentiment was spooky, especially in a time of draw-down; it was as if it was a crass propaganda ploy by the discredited Pentagon to extend the foolish war.

To honor the military and their sacrifices at such a stupendous event with a serviceman's representation is certainly appropriate. Rather than have General Petraeus who has the reputation, at least in the Army, as a hound for publicity, a decorated enlisted person would have been far more apolitical to toss the coin.

Many Americans focus on the Super Bowl TV ads that have become a highlight, because of their ingenuity. The US beer ads were there this time, but US automobile ads were not. It was vexing to me as an American to witness the promotion of foreign auto manufactures at the highest viewed annual national event in the US with no competition from Detroit. You would think the football league would have thrown the distressed US auto makers a bone – either out of national pride or for past loyalty,

The mother of all sports/politics combination remains the the international summer and winter olympics. There is always some political dust-up in these events that come every four years. For the US, it was the Moscow Olympics when our country declined to participate because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan; there was the black power resentment on the award stand with raised, clenched firsts at Mexico City; and who would have heard of Mitt Romney had he not rescued the winter olympics in Salt Lake city from corruption and mismanagement? The most hideous example of political murder at a sports event remains as the slaughter Israeli olympic athletes in Munich.

The US has used sporting events for diplomatic openings; remember ping pong with China? The most recent is a ploy backfired when a US female badminton team was rejected to play in Iran. To make matters worse, the team was denied visas after they had already reached the Gulf area on the door step of Iran. Uncertain why sweating females chasing shuttle cocks would pose a threat to the xenophobic ayatollahs. Doubt it was a headscarf issue. According to FOX TV NEWS the Iranians made the move to express their displeasure over the US appointment of Dennis Ross, the pro Israeli Jewish American as US envoy on Iran.

Obama now finds boosting the Steelers at Tampa, much easier than picking cabinet people free from tax dodging and passing a stimulus package that has a prospect for success. Obama is now scrambling to win the greatest game in his life – to save the US from political and economic disaster. It is obvious now that he can not do it with people who brought us the disasters. Tax cutting Republicans and spending Democrats agree the compromise pending stimulus bill will not rescue the US economically.

All now agree the bailout was a debacle. The dumb and smart money both have ironically also concluded that the projected stimulus bill will fail in its objective. But Obama pointlessly succeeded in a thin bipartisanship – process triumphed over substance in this case. Please, Mr. President no more such Pyrrhic victories. You must grind the Republican bones to make your bread. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret.


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