[originally published at Beyond Chron, December 17, http://www.beyondchron.org/articles/Obama_s_Shame_Christmas_Gift_to_WWE_s_GOP_Senate_Candidate_Linda_M]
by Irvin Muchnick
Fresh off the contorted Oslo speech in which he accepted his richly unearned Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of wars he inherited and had just announced he would intensify, our Laureate-in-Chief is making an appearance Saturday night on NBC’s “Tribute to the Troops” special – featuring World Wrestling Entertainment performers providing escapism for our men and women in uniform.
There’s a lot to say about this latest example of President Obama’s seemingly bottomless capacity to pander to the right. For starters: Does this guy ever know how to say “no” to a TV camera? He makes Bill Clinton, the gold standard for media whores, look like a shrinking violet.
On the substance, I can’t help remembering that John F. Kennedy used to refuse to wear silly hats as props, even on the campaign trail, because he felt it undermined the gravitas of the presidential message.
Sadly, I’m not surprised that Obama is doing this WWE gig. Or should I say, latest WWE gig. Last year he, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain took turns looking like asses on WWE’s flagship cable show, “Raw.”
It is stipulated that attention-hungry politicians are the last to make distinctions among “Laugh-In,” “Saturday Night Live,” and pro wrestling. To them, these are all are just lumpenproletariat photo ops, ways to humanize and laugh at themselves.
But this one is different. Linda McMahon – the wife of WWE chairman Vince McMahon, and until recently the company’s CEO – is running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut currently held by Chris Dodd. Pledging to spend an ungodly $50 million of her personal fortune (reaped in part thanks to her industry’s unbelievable pandemic of drugs and untimely death), Linda McMahon is one of two remaining candidates in the Republican field. The other is a former congressman, Rob Simmons.
If the election were held today, rather than in November 2010, polls suggest that either Simmons or McMahon would trounce Dodd, who is reeling with the end of the Obama honeymoon. That makes the president’s immensely stupid WWE guest shot doubly so.
The McMahons are your basic money-grubbing bipartisan non-ideologues; the databases show past campaign contributions by both of them to Democrats as well as Republicans. This has required some explaining away by Linda McMahon, for primary fights typically play to the party base. With his appearance on “Tribute to the Troops,” Obama now has injected himself into an internal state political fight – and he has done so in a way that gives perverse cover to a candidate of the opposite party.
In Connecticut, insiders are calling this gambit “Obama’s Christmas gift to Linda McMahon.” And I think that’s about right.
Shame on you, Mr. President. I didn’t know the title of your book was The Audacity of Hoax.
Regular Beyond Chron contributor Irvin Muchnick is the author of CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death (http://benoitbook.com). Instead of waiting to read Irv’s blogs when they get linked at the Connecticut political site Capitol Report, follow him directly at http://twitter.com/irvmuch.