August 5, 2008
And with the number one pick in this year's NFL draft... JaMarcus Russell.
Who may turn out to be worth his $60 million contract. But maybe not. Sort of like electing Barack Obama and hoping he doesn't turn out to be a Ryan Leif. Or Tim Couch. Or David Carr.
JaMarcus Russell, at 6-6 and 260, sure looks like a pro quarterback, and Barack Obama sure wows reporters as a "gifted politician." But "gifted campaigner" is more apt. A politician, like a quarterback, is judged on results, not promise. And, when it comes to results, Obama's record is, to be gentle, lean.
Which might be cool, were he just the QB. Instead, as President he'd also be head coach, offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, general manager, player personnel director, and business manager for a $3 trillion-a-year enterprise -- all from Day One and all, God forbid, from the opening shot.
A pro quarterback has 2.5 seconds to get his pass off -- and that's with grizzly bear-sized defenders with gazelle-style speed blitzing from places he never thought they could. Countless quarterbacks have looked fantastic -- until the game begins; countless politicians have sounded fabulous -- until they're sworn in.
And if Khrushchev challenged Kennedy and Bin Laden tested Bush just months after swearing their oaths, how long would Ahmadinejad wait? Or the even loonier Kim Jong-Il or Hugo Chávez? How many sleeper cells would snore no more after seeing JaMarcus Obama sworn in?
Obama likes to josh, "I'm relatively young as a candidate," but green is what most adversaries would think. And just as the hot-shot young quarterback better prepare to get creamed, Obama would need to be ready for blitzes coming from no one knows where. But come they will.
It probably won't be from another Katrina: Bush took far more than his share of blame for that but did everything he could so it never happens again. It probably won't be Iraq, since Bush has faced that, too, rather than pass off problems to his successor. But, with Obama's ego, who knows?
Obama pledges peace, and everyone in America of course agrees. The problem is that Al Qaeda doesn't. Hezbollah doesn't. Hamas doesn't. Iran doesn't. North Korean doesn't.
Obama pledges prosperity, and everyone in America of course agrees. The problem is that China wants prosperity, too, as does India, Brazil, and every other nation on earth -- at America's expense if need be. And since Obama has spearheaded not one significant bi-partisan bill as a senator, why as President should he suddenly be able to cajole competitors from abroad?
Obama pledges racial harmony, and almost everyone in America of course agrees, and who cares about the few who don't? But he also spent 20 years imbibing the Jeremiah Wright gospel that Black problems are White folks' fault and then preaching that we need to spend billions more on what billions have already proven doesn't work. Which makes his Bill Cosby conversion suspect at least.
Politics, like sports, sounds simple: until you play the game. If Obama were Katrina's General Russsel Honoré -- both of them Black and bi-racial -- his inexperience wouldn't matter much at all: Americans saw the General under fire and know he's a commander. But JaMarcus Obama? Can Americans imagine soldiers saying of Obama what one trooper said of Honoré in the chaos of Katrina?
Soldiers like to see leaders who are more ‘Do as I do' than ‘Do as I say.' During a time like this, everybody is looking for someone who has that authority.
Would they believe Obama speaking Honoré's words:
You've got to travel the rough road. You can't just read this stuff and apply it.
What does a coach do when his team is losing 25-0 after the first quarter? Does he call the quarterback over and tell him how stupid he is because he didn't play right, or does he get out the white board and start making adjustments?
Adjustments – not flop-flips: a veteran adjusts, a rookie panics. In football, the difference can cost a game; in governing, it can cost lives.
If Walter Payton were still with us or if Gayle Sayers or Marvin Harrison or LaDainian Tomlinson ran for President, most Americans wouldn't think of race at all, but instead would say, "What an amazing player, and even more impressive man." And then they'd mull, "But President? What's he done to prepare him for that?"
They'd ask the same of Roger Staubach. But they wouldn't ask long, not after remembering that he not only was a Naval Academy graduate, Heisman Trophy winner, Vietnam vet, Super Bowl Most Valuable Player, Hall of Fame quarterback, was called by his coach "possibly the best combination of a passer, an athlete and a leader to ever play in the NFL," enormously successful businessman building a company from scratch to one with 70 offices which just was bought for $600-plus million dollars.
They wouldn't worry about Staubach because they'd know he meant it when he said:
You see that number, and it's a big number. But this isn't Roger Staubach making $600 million. That's ridiculous. If that were the case, I would have sold out on everything that I've preached: 'We're all in this together.' What makes me feel as good as anything is to share this success with so many.
I can't emphasize enough how that's been the essence of what we've accomplished. We just don't put the words 'integrity' and 'trust' on the wall.
People who only take out of life, you can't trust them. Those who can take out of life and give back, you really can.
Simple words that simply ring true because of the character of the man who spoke them. But Obama: character? Integrity? Trust?
Staubach is especially famous for his "Hail Mary" pass -- almost literally a wing and a prayer. But it was no miracle -- even this man of deep faith wouldn't ask that. Instead his prayer was, Help me give it my best shot. And because he'd spent years preparing, he was ready. And delivered. Obama is always ready to campaign, but would he instantly be able to govern wisely? That would be a miracle indeed.
Barack Obama declares, "I want to inspire a renewal of morality in politics"; and his record? He boasts, "I'm a pretty persuasive guy"-- but how persuasive would he be with No Conditions Ahmadinejad? Sarkozy, when France's interests clash with America's? Cuba's Castro clan? Pakistan's leaders when it comes to their barbarous tribal lands?
He can buddy with Al Gore and Tom Friedman, but berate Exxon and still assure America's energy future? Sweet talk Pfizer and Merck, while blasting them about pharmaceutical greed? Move past MoveOn when they've got his chits?
All JaMarcus Russell has to do is execute plays: someone else calls them. No coach would ever trust his team (and his own job) to a rookie QB to do that.
Yet Americans may trust a rookie -- who after 3.5 years in the Senate isn't even first-string there -- to be in command until 2013.
For years we've heard, "Are you ready for some football" And fans rabidly are. But JaMarcus Obama? Is America ready for that?