The Pander Bowl

  • Share
  • Read Later
Pete Souza / The White House

President Barack Obama throws a football on the field at Soldier Field following the NATO working dinner in Chicago, May 20, 2012.

The message arrived with the president’s signature, so you know he really meant it.

NFL fans on both sides of the aisle hope the refs’ lockout is settled soon.-bo,” Barack Obama tweeted Tuesday, the day after a replacement referee botched a game-ending call that handed the Seattle Seahawks a phantom victory over the Green Bay Packers. The next presidential tweet pointed followers to an interview Obama gave last week to a Cleveland radio station, in which he boosted the hometown Browns before raising unbidden the league’s labor dispute. “One thing I got to say, though, is it just me or do we have to get our regular refs back?” Obama said, sounding like a miffed fan calling from his car during drive time. “I can’t get involved with it, but I’m just expressing my point of view as a sports fan.”

For nearly four years, Barack Obama has painstakingly crafted his image as America’s First Sports Fan. He unveils his March Madness bracket on ESPN, cites SportsCenter as his favorite show, sips draft beer in sports bars. In the heat of a presidential election campaign, did you expect Obama to pass up the chance to climb aboard a rare bipartisan bandwagon? The potential political benefits, modest though they may be, certainly aren’t diminished by his opponent’s tendency to call organized recreational activities “sport,” in the manner of a 19th century English aristocrat. The fact that the botched call afflicted the fans of swing-state Wisconsin can’t have hurt either.

Obama is laying it on thick. The President almost never reacts to shouted questions from reporters, but when he heard one utter the word “Packers” Tuesday, he paused to kibbitz with the press pack. “Terrible,” he said. “I’ve been saying for months, we’ve gotta get our refs back.” At the top of his daily gaggle with reporters, Obama Press Secretary Jay Carney kicked off the conversation by announcing his boss’s frustration with last night’s dismal officiating. “I do have to say that there is a pressing matter that kind of transcends all else for most Americans,” Carney said. As “an avid sports fan and an avid football fan,” he added, Obama believes “what happened in that game is a perfect example of why both sides need to come together to resolve their differences so that the regular refs can get back on the field and we can start focusing on a game that so many of us love.” Perhaps Obama has found his post-partisan issue at last.

He’s not the only one, however. In fact, Republicans beat him to the punch. “Did you guys watch that Packer game last night?” Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan asked a Cincinnati town-hall crowd this morning. “I mean, give me a break. It is time to get the real refs. And you know what, it reminds me of President Obama and the economy.” Never mind how.

Fellow Cheesehead Scott Walker, governor of a bruised fan base, got in on the action as well. “After catching a few hours of sleep, the Packers game is still just as painful. #Returntherealrefs,” he tweeted. This inoffensive bit of identity politics spurred the obligatory counter-charge. “Walker’s sudden support of union labor is surprising, given his push for a radical union-busting law that effectively ended collective bargaining for many of Wisconsin’s public employees,” huffed a writer for the liberal website ThinkProgress. (Walker’s spokesman actually felt compelled to shoot down the notion that the tweet meant Walker was softening his stance on unions–public or private).

Even that wasn’t as far-fetched as the idea that a bungled call was the 2012 election’s September surprise – a “crucial, overriding, historic, game-changing, defining-moment issue” for Obama and Mitt Romney alike. But perhaps we should forgive all this hyped-up hand-wringing. It’s 45 days until the election. There are pixels to fill and swing voters to persuade. Let the Pander Bowl go on.

37 comments
Heterotic
Heterotic

I do not understand the outrage regarding the lack of competence by sports officials, especially by politicians. Congress is far less competent yet we cannot seem to get rid of those amateurs.

53underscore3
53underscore3

Even if Obama has sided with the Packers against the Hawks, that's nowhere near enough reason to make me vote for Romney.

Now, if the GOP wannabe's here were able to "fix" America the way they've always wanted, I'd probably have no choice....

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

Redistributing wealth upward

By Harold Meyerson, Published: September 25

Which is the more redistributionist of our two parties? In recent decades, as Republicans have devoted themselves with laser-like intensity to redistributing America’s wealth and income upward, the evidence suggests the answer is the GOP.

The most obvious way that Republicans have robbed from the middle to give to the rich has been the changes they wrought in the tax code — reducing income taxes for the wealthy in the Reagan and George W. Bush tax cuts, and cutting the tax rate on capital gains to less than half the rate on the top income of upper-middle-class employees.

The less widely understood way that Republicans have helped redistribute wealth to the already wealthy is by changing the rules. Markets don’t function without rules, and the rules that Republican policymakers have made since Ronald Reagan became president have consistently depressed the share of the nation’s income that the middle class can claim.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

Something made an impression because according to our local news anchor, the strike is settled and we should have the real refs back on Sunday.

JohnParish
JohnParish

Help support the change in the way election campaign funds

are raised.  Stop the Super Pacs from

steering the candidates and ruling the government. 

Come march on Congress and show them that the American

Population do not want candidates to be persuaded by these Super Pacs any more.

Visit www.indiegogo.com/SuperPac

and help raise the awareness of this problem.

grape_crush
grape_crush

Never mind how.

The owners don't want to negotiate with existing labor, chose to outsource the work to Lingerie Bowl rejects (no, they really did) and as a result have accepted an inferior work product as well as inadvertently creating a less-safe environment for the other people on the field.

There are parallels, but I don't know where someone of Ryan's ideology is coming from either with that statement.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Many of these owners that are worth hundreds of millions of dollars could easily step in and offer to pay the difference for the ref's salaries (similar to how late-night talk show hosts like Conan and Leno did for their staff) but I guess that would be asking too much of them.

theoldkathy
theoldkathy

When Romney was asked if he'd "order the regular refs back to work," betraying the reporter's ignorance that this is a lockout, Romney did nothing to correct that.  He can't even say nothing without looking out of touch.

chupkar
chupkar

For nearly four years, Barack Obama has painstakingly crafted his image as America’s First Sports Fan.

Because, you know, Barack Obama has never been a sports fan before he became POTUS. (insert eye roll)

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

Thanks, that caught my eyes (and I rolled them)  as well.

sacredh
sacredh

The White House brews their own beer too. If they had a still, I'd think they were making a play for Kentucky.

rokinsteve
rokinsteve

The refs make 150 thousand a year?  Can we toast Roger Goodell's heart on a stick?

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

When asked about his thoughts on the football dispute, Mitt Romney was quoted as saying "Football?  Are those the guys on the horses or the ones being chased?"

SAJ2995
SAJ2995

As the economy continues to implode upon itself under the "steady" hand of Barack Obama.  As the world burns more American flags and riots continue, Barack Obama is shown tossing a football and reporters fawn over his outrage about NFL referees.  

Seriously?

53underscore3
53underscore3

If there's an implosion, it must be very transparent and very virtual.

Except unless maybe it's in your head, rusty.

ahandout
ahandout

And, you managed to find a photo of cool Barry with a football.  Man you are workin' it.

You should just put on the high heels and walk the street.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Don't be jealous just because our guy is relatable and yours is an android.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

re Handy: Ours is an iPhone 5.  Yours is a Blackberry.

Steve0T
Steve0T

Hey don't feel bad.

I am sure there are pics out there  of Ritt with NFL team owners. 

ahandout
ahandout

Good gawd we're stuck in high school with Barry as prom king and the press are his suck ups.

Who gives a chit about what Obama thinks regarding a football ref strike.

Dude, let's ask Barry what he thinks about the refs. OK dude.  Dude, do you think Barry's cool or what?  Yeah dude, he's like a really cool dude, dude.  I think I will write a column about how cool Barry is dude.  Lameass.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

"Why aren't you fawning over Mitt like I am?!  A bloo bloo bloo bloo!"

jean deux
jean deux

nfl refs make $150k/yr, and they want more.  I support the league on this one, besides who cares, it's a game people! while we are on the topic of union greed and extortion, you want to know why health care is so expensive?  my friend, a nurse just retired  on a $14,000/month pension, plus free life time health ins.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

As opposed to the players that make millions and the owners that make hundreds of millions.

gysgt213
gysgt213

Yes the NFL brings in 9 billion dollars a year and when these current contracts are up  the NFL will want more.  Throwing numbers around with no context and specifics does not help you understand if the NFL refs have a point and neither does what your friend brings in a month in her pension.  If she was in fact lucky enough to still have a pension when she retired.

gysgt213
gysgt213

If your nurse friend retired with a pension she is really lucky.  Most companies in this country are doing away with pensions and forcing their employees to 401ks which also shifts the risk to the employees and saves the companies money.  We don't know the specifics of your friend 

The NFL makes at least 9 billion dollars a year.  What the refs are asking for won't put a dent in that.  

.

"nfl refs make $150k/yr, and they want more.".

According to ESPN.com's Darren Rovell, the average pay for NFL game officials last season was $149,000. Under the NFL's last proposal, that would increase to more than $189,000 by 2018. In addition, a game official in his first year in 2011 made an average of $78,000. Under the NFL's last proposal, he would make more than $165,000 by the end of the new agreement. 

• The NFL will pay the head referee $3,500 per regular-season game. The six others on the field will make $3,000 per game.• The head referee will make about 6.5 times less than the lowest-paid player on the field. The rookie who is getting paid a minimum will make $22,941 a week.• At $1,058,823 per weekly paycheck, Peyton Manning will make 302 times more than the head referee officiating the game.http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/nfl/st...

La_Randy
La_Randy

Corporate CEO makes 20 million a year and wants more.

Runs for President to fight this egregious situation.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

Sports fans, NFL football fans, people who like unions, union workers, people who hate millionaire/billionaire team owners, people who hate bad sports officiating (or "sport officiating," if you're Mitt Romney) ... So much room to "pander," how's a fella to decide?

pollardty
pollardty

Please keep us up to date on this very important aspect of the campaign. 

I look forward to your in depth analysis of Romney's "tandering" as an oompa loompa for the Univision town hall.  

I don't really. I think this post is an embarrassing waste of "Time".

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

I don't think it's a waste, but then again I'm a big sports fan as are many. 

Politicians will do whatever it takes to look like a regular guy. 

Norma Gonzalez Cruz
Norma Gonzalez Cruz

Regular guy? Ol' Willard would have to turn himself into a pretzel to even remotely look like a regular guy....oh, wait....

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

And then there's Mitt Romney: "I don't watch very much football but I'm friends with several NFL owners"

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

If he did want to watch a game in person, it would be in the 1% luxury boxes and he would get there in a private jet and by private limousine.  How much are tickets for the Republican proletariat down in the stands?  Or a hot dog and drink?  The 47% watch on teevee.

I don't watch very much football either, but the socioeconomic dynamics of it do stir my attention.  And screw the refs; $150,000 is more than enough on top of their real job salaries.

pollardty
pollardty

He does love "sport", old sport.

Pnnto
Pnnto

Well done, I had the over/under for an owner joke at 2.5 comments.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

NASCAR owners too. Mitt has such a common touch (or not).

sacredh
sacredh

"He’s not the only one, however. In fact, Republicans beat him to the punch. “Did you guys watch that Packer game last night?” Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan asked a Cincinnati town-hall crowd this morning. “I mean, give me a break. It is time to get the real refs. And you know what, it reminds me of President Obama and the economy.” Never mind how."

.

Ryan: And by the way, I want control of your wive's v@ginas.

MrObvious
MrObvious

The irony is of course that the 'real refs' are unionized.