John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


The Flopper

Posted on August 6, 2008



            I am not a big fan of professional soccer, although it can be a lot of fun to go to a DC United game.  I always get a kick out of those guys who take a flop in front of the goal, writhing in apparent pain, trying desperately to get a penalty shot out of the deal.  As soon as it becomes apparent that their efforts are not going to work, they bound up as if nothing ever happened.


            In the NBA, probably the greatest flopper of all-time was Bill Laimbeer.  Laimbeer was known as a tough player who sometime played dirty.  He also was a great actor, who flopped on the floor at the slightest contact, trying to draw a charging foul.


            Barack Obama’s campaign has become the political equivalent of Bill Laimbeer.  They flop at the slightest contact, charging foul when no foul has been committed.


            The latest example of that was in the famous Paris Hilton/Brittney Spears ad.  Obama himself reacted the right way, saying that the ad was pretty silly, but caused no harm.  But his campaign (and some members of the hyper-sensitive media) cried foul as if Obama got undercut under the basket.  They charged that the McCain campaign was putting these two blonde starlets up there – ala the infamous Harold Ford ad – in order to make some statement about blondes and African-Americans.  Nice try.  That is a flop if I have ever seen one.  The fact is that if most people thought celebrity and the celebrity culture, they would think of Paris Hilton and Brittney Spears.  They wouldn’t think of Denzel Washington, who is a serious actor and a bonafide star, not merely a celebrity.


            The Obama campaign reacted the same way to the infamous New Yorker cover that depicted Obama and his wife fist-bumping in an unflattering way.  The point of the cover was to lampoon not Obama, but his critics.  But his campaign over-reacted anyway, crying a foul on a member of their own extended team.


            This all started when the Obama campaign started calling foul after foul on Bill Clinton.  It got so bad that Clinton has had to defend himself by proclaiming to all that would hear that he is not a racist.  When America’s First Black President (as designated by the Poet Maya Angelou) has to try to convince the media that is not a racist, you know the flopping has taken its toll.  Just ask Geraldine Ferraro.


            Ironically, all of this flopping has only hurt the Obama campaign.  By being hyper-sensitive, his campaign is alienating an important voting bloc, Reagan Democrats.  And by keeping the issue of race alive in the campaign, Obama’s swift counterattacks undermine his strategy of uniting a disparate coalition, of which a significant percentage has to be moderate white Americans if he is to win in November.


            Flopping might work in basketball, although many will argue that it hurt the reputation of Laimbeer, who was a pretty good player without the flopping.  It doesn’t work in politics, at least it hasn’t with the Obama campaign. 

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