The Rev. Wright wasn’t around, so our leader found a worthy substitute, the great DB Richard Sherman, visiting the White House along with other Super Bowl winning Seattle Seahawks to receive full presidential honors and lessons on leadership and teamwork. But not before “Sherman” was singled out for his mic work. That was a knowing reference to the trash talk little Richard engaged in upon securing his team’s playoff win against hated San Francisco. The sort of talk and taunting that remains as classless as that when Muhammad Ali bullied a fighter he’d just knocked out. The very kind of behavior our president regards as the stuff of good sportsmanship. He just loves Sherman & Co.’s “Legion of Boom” defense.
He didn’t stop there. He praised the truly great quarterback Russell Wilson, who “became only the second African American quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl. And the best part about it is nobody commented on it” — so why did he? Eric Holder wasn’t around, yet still he injected race into the proceedings. It went hand in hand with his need to portray Wilson as an underdog — “For years, folks said he’d be too short to succeed as a quarterback in the NFL,” which is nonsense since by the middle of his rookie season anyone who wasn’t blind knew Wilson was as good as they come — all so America’s leading armchair QB could compare himself to the Seattle star. And you know he was dead serious because before anyone could stop him he was referring to himself in the third person. “So let me just say as a guy who was elected President named Barack Obama, I root for the underdogs. And so seeing folks overcome the odds excites me.” At least something does.
Earlier he had praised Seattle’s excitable head coach Pete Carroll “for his outstanding leadership.” Which naturally led him to compare himself to Carroll, as in “I think those of us who are in leadership positions across disciplines, we’re always looking at folks who do things the right way.”
You’ve got to love that “across disciplines,” particularly when it turns out that discipline has disappeared from his particular area of leadership and where “doing things the right way” is for suckers. We got a taste earlier in the day when he feigned outrage at the treatment of our veterans at VA hospitals, which if not for CNN he would not have known about even though improving conditions throughout the VA system was to be his highest priority since at least Campaign 2008. He spoke with the straightest of faces and there was no one around to lower a Seahawk Boom on him. That’s leadership for you, though more along the lines of Pete Carroll when he cut and ran from USC, just as scandal was about to envelop its football program, to take the Seattle job. We can never get enough of folks who do things the right way.
Which brings us to the great untouchable, the former Army chief of staff who’s been doing things the right way as the commander-in-chief’s head of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Until now he was best known as the general who tried to get every GI to wear a black beret, apparently in a chivalrous gesture toward the current and former Ms. Monica Lewinsky. Had he and she served in an earlier time, she might have become the Army’s mascot and no one would have ever heard of Betty Grable.
Time, alas, works in mysterious ways and so we have former General Shinseki now serving his nation as an utterly inert secretary of Veterans Affairs. His performance hasn’t been entirely futile. For instance, no one’s heard of any attempts by him to have VA hospital nurses replace their caps with berets. And he has brought a rare transparency to his work. Of whom else can it be said in this administration that we can clearly detect what’s been going on under his watch?
Check out Shinseki’s time piece in the photo above. Ever see such a fancy Rolex on any wrist this side of K Street or the Strip in Vegas? The message it sends is crystal clear: No one wearing such a watch would ever be caught dead inside a VA hospital. So how was he supposed to know any more about its conditions than his C in C? Perhaps this week’s EOW prize will broaden his perspective. Or better yet force his boss to buy the missus something comparable.