Duhhhh. President Barack Obama rooted for the Pittsburgh Steelers in last night’s Super Bowl. Now, let’s see, Pennsylvania has 21 electoral votes, Arizona has 10. Arizona has voted Republican in 5 of the last 6 presidential elections. Pennsylvania has voted Democratic in 5 of the last 6.
Arizona, John McCain’s home state, was one of the few outside the south and the electoral wasteland of the mountain states that Obama lost in 2008.
Then there was that terribly candid moment during the primaries, at a fundraiser in San Francisco, when one of Obama’s own supporters recorded him talking about the people of Pennsylvania, saying that they will in times of economic uncertainty “cling to guns or religion.” Obama lost the Pennsylvania primary to Hillary Clinton, even though he had the nomination wrapped up. Obviously, he has had some making up to do with Pennsylvanians. Picking the football team was a nice touch.
Finally, the Arizona Cardinals were led by quarterback, Kurt Warner, a famous Evangelical Christian, which was one of the few voting blocs that Barack Obama did not win outright and the religion of choice of his likely 2012 opponent, Sarah Palin.
Now, for those who think I am cynical and who point out that Richard Nixon was a sports fan, that you can be a sports fan and a president at the same time, let me just add this little story. I’ve spent my whole life as a rabid Dodger fan. From Brooklyn to Los Angeles I followed every box score and marveled at the unfolding statistics of the season. But when I worked on staff at the White House, there wasn’t time for any of that. For the first time in my life I couldn’t have told you who was winning what? I received a personal, handwritten letter from Tommy Lasorda, inviting me up to Philadelphia to see the Dodgers play the Phillies. There was not even a remote chance that it could happen.
I assure you that neither a president Richard Nixon nor a president Barack Obama has time to do anything but exercise the power of their office and hang on for dear life. Politics is an art and we all just witnessed a rather beautiful exhibit. This is not a complaint, just stating the facts.
The only risk Barack Obama took in favoring the Steelers was the odd chance that some of this would come unraveled. It almost happened in last night’s Matt Lauer interview in the White House, when the president stumbled over some of the details of the NFL playoffs and the Steelers early opponents. Mercifully, Lauer did not pursue it.
I was proud of the Cardinals. They came closer than John McCain.