Friday, February 09, 2007

Is Barack Obama Politics' Gibert Arenas?
(Or Perhaps Arenas Is the NBA's Obama?)

Barack Obama will announce his candidacy for the Presidency in '08 tomorrow. I'm a huge politics junkie. I'm a huge Obama fan. This is big news.

I have formulated a theory, which is obviously imperfect, but nonetheless might be found interesting by those of you who enjoy following politics, as well as sports.

Barack Obama is the Gilbert Arenas of Presidential contenders.

Consider the similarities:

*Both are almost almost universally loved and respected. For Obama, this manifests itself most recently in his No. 1 book sales; for Arenas, this manifested itself most recently in his All-Star voting surge into "starter" status.

*Both deliver an aura of accessibility. For example, Obama announced his first Presidential-race news directly to the voters on his Web site, YouTube-style. Arenas regularly makes and breaks news directly to fans on his blog.

(In a related similarity, Obama's move seemingly inspired his rivals to do something similar with their online-video announcements. Arenas' impromptu 3-point contest last week against teammate DeShawn Stevenson -- for $20,000 and captured on video and published on YouTube by a Wizards blogger -- was such an instant Internet sensation that it inspired at least one contrived copycat product by the Lakers.)

*Both seem to always say/do the things that make fans nod their head and shout: "Yes! I'm with you!" For Obama, this started with his Democratic National Convention speech in 2004 and has continued since, as he tours the country speaking to crowds. For Arenas, this includes so many things I can't recount them all. (I simply refer to Gilbert's Wikipedia entry.)

*Both are grassroots, blogosphere sensations. No explanation necessary.

*The "Black President" Factor: Obama would like to become the first black president. Arenas actually calls himself "The Black President." (I'm not kidding: It's the name of Gilbert's MySpace page.)

*And, yet, both are relatively untested at the "national" level. For Obama, that's a Presidential race; for Arenas, that's the NBA Playoffs/Finals. Their critics use this against them.

*And even though both are insanely popular, both are still not considered the frontrunner in their respective races. For Obama, that's winning the Democratic nomination; for Arenas, that's winning League MVP.

"Agent Zero" and Agent "O": I'm happy to be up-front about it: Obama is my favorite politician, and Arenas is my favorite athlete. Is it too much to ask for a "Obama/Arenas" Presidential ticket in '08? (Cripes, I'm kidding. Uh, wait: Can we get a Mothering Hut T-shirt of that?)

You don't have to agree with me in my support of either (or both) to recognize the fascinating similarities in their situations right now. (My only concern is that I have it flip-flopped: Maybe it should be "Arenas is the Obama of the NBA." Next stop: Around the Horn! Meet the Press!

-- D.S.

Here's a coincidence: The Wall Street Journal just sent me an email with a URL to a free version of their article today on Gilbert. Needless to say, I imagine the WSJ isn't backing Obama.


verbal97 said...

I'm also a big fan of both, so I love the comparison...there certainly has to be some way of working in the US team snub in there too.

Unknown said...

I would still like to see Jon Stewart run... maybe it's ignroance on my party but I think he could do some damage.

CMFost said...

Dan, I like Obama but I am not sure he has the backround and experience yet to be President but I think he would make a great #2 on the democratic ticket. Be it Hillary, Edwards, Gore or any of the other candidates that win the nomination if Barack does not they would be stupid not to have him as the VP candidate.

Personally i have not made up my mind yet as to who i will vote for when Massachusetts has there primary in a year but there is definetly plenty of time to choose.

My hope is the Al Gore decides to run. Barring him my choice would probably be between Hillary and Edwards

Unsilent Majority said...

That's pretty fucking astute.

CMFost said...

Is it me or has the Presidential race started really early this cycle? I mean the first primary is a year away. The elections are 21 months away. Isn't it hard to decide who you are going to vote for at the point. I mean I pretty much know that I am voting for the Democrats candidate but who I am voting for in terms of who I wanted as there candidate is not known at this time.

Big D said...

Not exactly the post I was expecting ot read during lunch, but interesting nonetheless.

Speaking as a completely unaffiliated voter (I choose the candidates whose views most closely match my own, party be damned), I think that Obama/Edwards & Romney/McCain will be your 2008 US Presidency Tickets, with Ralph Nader sneaking in to grab 2-4% of the vote.

verbal97 said...

cmfost, Gore announced that he is NOT running. It's too bad, because he would have been my first choice by a long margin. He did get nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize last week though.

CMFost said...

Big D - Edwards will not take the #2 spot and Romney has little chance of making the ticket in anyway. And McCain is a complete sell out. He used to be a candidate that I watched and followed but since he has completely sold out to the neo cons he would now never get my vote.

CMFost said...

Verbal, Do not be surprised if there is late movement come next November in terms of Gore getting into the race. Especially if he wins the Oscar and the Nobel Peace Prize. And if he did enter late he would come in and pretty much sweep by everyone including Hillary and Obama.

Dan Shanoff said...

Hey, I'm a Democrat, but I don't/won't begrudge you if you are a Republican and the post happens to be about politics, like this one is.

Now, I won't let the Comment section devolve into freak-outs that you'll find on politics-only blogs, but if you've got something intelligent or interesting to say, I'm all for it.

Natsfan74 said...

Arenas and Obama due have strikingly similiar aspects. But remember that Howard Dean used the internet to reach and mobilize the masses, making him an early frontrunner in the last election.

Basketball has reached the point where typical fans and internet junkies intersect.

Politics hasn't totally reached that yet. The internet is a great way to reach and energize a young base. But money comes from those who have it, who are generally older and not as internet-inclined.

Arenas will only see his popularity grow due to his internet prowess. Obama may not have the same luck.

solomonrex said...

Actually, I think Big D is close. I'm not sure that Romney/McCain wouldn't be switched, but those two tickets are pretty likely.

Hillary isn't accepted by right-leaning moderates, and the left wing of the Democrats don't like her like they once loved her husband. Obama is Dungy-smooth.

Romney would make sense - the opposite of a Southern Democrat governor (Clinton, Carter, almost Gore) is a Northern Republican Governor candidate. As a conservative and a Christian, I'd rather see a Mormon in the White House than a Democrat. And I think all that has been keeping the "moderate" Northern Republican candidates winning in the last decade or so is their social values (McCain). So Romney will work.

Jon Stewart the comedian? Right. Now that the army is voluntary, maybe it's time to raise the voting age...

Tom said...

i'm not sure how you could think any politician these days could be "almost universally loved and respected."

Signal to Noise said...

Like the comparison; hadn't thought of it that way.

I could deal with Obama -- he's not always been my favorite as a legislator so far; I think there are others who take stands that I would prefer to see (Gore, Feingold), but if it does come down to him and Hillary, I would go all out for Obama. I can't deal with a minimum of 24 years of the President being a Bush or Clinton (I thought we declared independence from a monarchy.)

Romney's probably the likely GOP candidate, if the conservative Christian right doesn't have a problem with his Mormonism.

Dan Shanoff said...

Socialism? Right: Which is why pretty much everyone agrees that the health-care system is a disaster and needs reform to a near-universal (if not universal) state.

RevScottDeMangeMD said...

I think McCain or Rudy will win because of these reasons.

1.) Obama is a what some people call "a conservative liberal." He is right in the middle and that scares off the very dedicated democrats. Also, and it's very unfortunate, he is african-american. there are many crazy fucked up people in this country that will refuse to vote for an african-american. that is why colin powell never ran. his wife did not let him because she was scared for his safey. it's very sad that this country is still like this.

2.) contrary to popular belief, hillary is not liked by the majority of women. women look at her and are disgusted that she could would let her husband do that to her and now she "stands by her man." and then of course, there are a good amount of men (even the one's that are democrats) that will not vote for a woman.

this country has some very fucked up views when it comes to politics. that's why i don't pay taxes. ;)

CMFost said...

Signal I agree with you. The 2 candidates I would of gone all out to help win are not even running and that is disappointing. I think if Feingold or Gore ran they would win easily.

As for the Hillary the reason she has a chance to win is she appeals to the center and that is part of the reason the more liberal democrats dislike her but she can pull that indepedent and moderate republican vote that will be important to win the general election.

As for the republicans personally i could care less who they nominate as there is virtualy no shot that i will vote for there candidate.

Also for the person who said the republicans may take back part of the congress, there is little chance of that happening what is more likely to happen is the democrats increase there majority especially in the senate where there will be more republicans running for reelection then dems.

verbal97 said...

I knew it was just a matter of time before someone cracked out the hard words (socialism!?)

bigd, I too am unaffiliated because I hate political parties (one of only two things Hamilton got wrong). But to be honest, I don't think I could bring myself to vote for Clinton, Edwards, Romney or McCain, so your predicted ballot would be very depressing (for me).

And Jeb Bush (!)...please, I just ate lunch, don't make me vomit it up.

solomonrex said...

Here are my two sides of socialized health care:
1. No one wants people to die because they can't afford health care, and relying on hospitals and non-profits and families to provide support in extreme cases often doesn't cut it. Look at inner-city infant mortality rates some time.
2. BUT no one wants China to dominate the world economy, therefore, we really don't want to create a situation similar to Europe (where we need protectionism to prop up our economy). Add to that the huge hit our economy would take when you eliminate peoples' number one incentive for getting up for work everyday? There's a reason we're consistently the hardest or second hardest (to the Koreans) working people on the planet.

It's not easy to consider what is worse.

chitown italian said...

Obama - YES! Clinton - God NO!!!

I am not very political. I go for the best candidate. And last time it was not Kerry.

Everyone thinks Bush f-ed up Iraq, it would have been much worse under Kerry. Although Kerry's daughter is much hotter than the Bush twins (just had to put that out there). Besides, who would you rather be with? The Kerry daughter at Fenway or the Bush twins in Arlington?

Nice change of pace though Shanny. You should check my pics on myspace (crazy_dago). If you need any work my good friend is the king of photoshop.

Unknown said...

People say 'socialism' as if it were a terrible terrible thing across the board. Do some research on it, some ideas attributed to 'socialism' are fine. I'd sure take Canada's healthcare over ours.

Solomonrex...i do love the Republican ideas that if one is Christian, they clearly can't vote for or be Democrat. /end sarcasm

I'm not affiliated, and have voted based on ideas so my ballots tend to have a mix of both parties. McCain, i've always liked, but I like Obama as well. I won't lie, I'd vote for Bill Clinton again in a second...dunno about Hillary.

As for Jeb Bush...great...woo...nepotism at its finest if another Bush sneaks into the White House. The name alone would either totally destroy his campaign..or give it a great boost. Did he do anything worthwhile as governor? Not that it matters. Frankly, the Rush Limbaughs should wait for Jenna Bush...i'd vote for her.

Bench said...

Can anyone please tell me one thing, just one thing, Obama has done so far to merit a run for President? Besides his speech in 2004, all the guy has done is talk. Has he introduced any relevant legislation? Does he ever offer any plans to bring our troops home? I'm sorry ... I just don't buy the Agent "O" thing at all.

CMFost said...

Some Interesting NH Poll numbers - Source WMUR/CNN
Taken Feb. 8th

Dem Primary -
Clinton - 35%
Obama - 21%
Edwards - 15%

Rep Primary -
McCain - 28%
Guiliani - 27%
Romney - 13%

williamnyy said...

The Healthcare system is far from a disaster. In fact, it is one of the finest in the world. Unfortunately, there are enough people lacking proper access that some reform is needed. Personally, I’d prefer a market-based approach that doesn’t sacrifice quality for access. Hilary has been down this rode before, and as a Republican, I hope she takes it once again.

Also from a Republican standpoint, the recent list of Democrat hopefuls is very encouraging. Instead of nominating a moderate governor with a good track record, the Democrats seem hell bent on selecting a liberal senator (it’s been 50 years since any senator was elected). It seems as if the Dems have mistaken the country’s anti-Iraq vote last November as signs of a sea change. If so, they could be in for a rude awakening. For that reason, I hope the GOP will be wise and not lean too left in their 2008 ticket. I personally like Guiliani and McCain but think there are stronger, more conservative candidates. Having said that, if Clinton/O’bama/Edwards/Gore (please!) are on the ticket, Republicans wont have to worry too much about whom they nominate. I just don't see the country taking such a sharp left turn.

Dan Shanoff said...

Wow, we're all a regular "McLaughlin Group," aren't we?

Probably best if we skip the politics and stick to sports, given the direction of the posts.

None of you are going to change anyone's minds with any of your arguments -- nor will your own mind be changed by anyone else's. It's all fine and good to present your own position, but this can hardly be called "debate."

I mean, hell, this post started as much as an homage to Arenas as to Obama...

What I enjoy most about all of this is that this blog attracts fans from such a wide ideological spectrum. Sports has a way of either muting political leanings -- or creating new, sports-centric leanings that may or may not have anything to do with your political leanings. Interesting.

CMFost said...

Has anyone else notice the differences in diversity when it comes to the candidates from each parties.

The Democrats
Have an African American, A women, and a hispanic currently running for nomination

the republicans
All rich older white men.

Unknown said...

Real quick from me.

I love Obama - read the books, contribute to the campaign I mean I absolutely love the guy and what he stands for. He is open and forthwright (to a fault) and that speech he will give at the Old State House in Springfield Illinois will be monumental.

However if he were not to win the nomination I dont think he runs for VP.

I think the Dems already have their VP and he is about the 3rd most popular candidate amongst the netroots people (which is a huge part of the Democratic party right now) and of course I'm talking about General Wesley Clark.

Hillary, Edwards, Obama all lack international experience to a point. Wes Clark is the guy I am almost sure will be the VP Candidate for the Dems if he doesn't get the nod for President (since we're still waaaaay out of the primaries things could change.)

Andy said...

I just want to say one thing here. Everyone in these comments are talking about how "neo-cons won't vote for so-in-so" and "liberals won't vote for so-in-so" but not seems to realize that Obama really wants bipartisanship. Personally, I think Obama would run away with the election if he ran as an independent. Moderate Republicans would be more inclined to vote for him because they wouldn't be voting for a actual Democrat and he'll still get the moderate Democrats vote. This country desperately wants someone in the White House that will unite Washington and not divide it. Hilary won't win for that reason. Romney won't win for that reason. Bipartisanship is in guys. Get used to it. GO OBAMA!!!

Natsfan74 said...

Obama will not have the staying power to remain competitive over the long haul. First, he has no real record to stand on. He's a 1/2 term senator who ran what was, ostensibly, an unopposed election in Illinois. 2nd, he's not even super popular in Illinois. His fame is growing, but it isn't a mortal lock he would win again right now against a tough Republican in that state. Finally, as much as he talks purple and moderate and middle, and all of those things, he still has one of the very most liberal voting records in the Senate. Finally, members of Congress are pretty restricted in a Presidential campaign because they do have a documented voting record to stand on - did they vote for or against the something? did they change their mind later? Does their position change reflect a change in public opinion at the time? Presidents lead. Members of congress vote in accordance withe popular sentiment, instead of shaping that sentiment.

Lowlife said...

Doesn't it seem like a lot of things are up in the air this year? The NBA MVP, the NBA Playoffs, the Oscar race, the 2008 election, March Madness. I don't - maybe it's just me, but it seems like this year (and next) is filled with a lot of uncertainty both in sports and our culture.

But on an entirely different subject - Dan - I appreciate your unabashed honesty and passion for the things you love. Whether it be for Arenas, Obama, your MySpace page or even Florida - I enjoy coming here to hear your thoughts and just to read from someone who's actually excited about what he's talking about.

Oh and please tell me you're going to do some coverage on the Oscars, right?

solomonrex said...

Switching topics for a second, I don't think Gilbert Arenas is a big deal yet. It's not fair, but only hardcore basketball fans really know about him. He's like John Daly, John Kruk, tony stewart, shannon sharpe, they're great, colorful characters who weren't quite good enough or colorful enough to hit the mainstream.

If he can make it to the finals, with all the attendant hype and exposure, then he's a big deal.

Dan Shanoff said...

Uh, Gil was featured in the Wall Street Journal today and Time Magazine this week. And those publications are WAY behind.

I think All-Star Weekend will be a Gilbert-fest.

It's not a question of whether Gilbert "has arrived" or "is huge."

It's when the inevitable backlash will start.

But as long as he continues to top himself, he'll be OK. The challenge will be to accomplish exactly that.

Then again, anyone who thought Gil couldn't get hotter couldn't have seen last week's YouTube clip of the $20,000 3-point contest after practice coming.

Gilbert's originality is organic. Nothing about it is forced; it's all a part of his personality. That's why fans will continue to flock to him and why he'll continue to do such endearing things.

solomonrex said...

You're missing the point. The average person doesn't even know what team he is on. It's not that he isn't popular... for a basketball player. For a blog subject... It's that he isn't a celebrity for the common person. He isn't Kobe, Shaq, Jordan, LeBron, AI or Barkley. He could very well get there, but certainly not yet.

Sports blogs and ESPN just aren't enough. He's arrived as a player, but he's not a household name. That's what titles, big trades, media feuding and scandals do for you.

Unknown said...

Man, this is going to get ugly, last political post Dan?

How about I change subjects....Religon; which one is right?


CMFost said...

Carl are any of those people running for president?

And did you forget that the Dems had Al Sharpton running, and there was actually a women running but I forget her name.

And let us not forget the Democrats where also the first to put a female on the ticket or did you forget geraldine ferraro?

mark said...

What I enjoy most about all of this is that this blog attracts fans from such a wide ideological spectrum. Sports has a way of either muting political leanings -- or creating new, sports-centric leanings that may or may not have anything to do with your political leanings. Interesting.

Sports has a way of uniting rather than dividing.

And why shouldn't it: when your team walks out on that field, you don't see black or white, liberal or conservative, guys from the ghetto or guys from the farm. You see people wearing the colors of your team, working together to win.

And it's something that's easy for everyone to unite behind, too. Once the fans themselves put on their Bears or White Sox or Bulls hats and jerseys, they too stop being, for the time they're inside the arena or stadium, Democrats or Republicans or whatever--they become, alike, Chicagoans.

The rules inside the arena are simple, and univesally known. The playing field is inherently level (let's ignore those rumors about what the groundskeepers do to the third-base line). Winning is joyous, but even if you lose, life goes on. In short, the cruel rules that apply out in the part of the world where there aren't referees and shot clocks and penalty boxes, where nice guys usually finish last, are checked at the door, to a certain extent. Sports, then, is a wonderful proxy for how everyone thinks the ideal world should wind up being. So it's no wonder that it unifies.

Also, it's a celebration of the best in all of us, isn't it?

eileen said...

Romney wouldn't even carry the state he governed. There's no way he gets the Republican nom over McCain or Guiliani.

I think the Dems will end up with Clinton/Obama, but not sure in which order. Wouldn't Bill Clinton make an awesome First Gentleman?

mark said...

As an aside--how long do you think it'll be before Washington renames its basketball venue Gilbert Arena?

Hack33308 said...

Well, the comparison is pretty good except for one big area...

With Arenas I've seen enough of what he can do to know he's a real talent...

With Obama I wouldn't say that's close to the case. Most people love him not for what he's done, but what they assume he'll be (he's like a high school kid who's drafted #1 - lots of promise that leaves everyone starry eyed).

When you can come back and tell me that you love Obama and tick off all of his policy stands that make you feel that way (besides just his "I'm against Iraq" stand)...then I'll concede my point.

Mega said...

As Homer Simpson said:

"Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos!"

In any case Shanoff, I linked this topic over to my own blog. I like the Obama/Arenas comparison.

And did anyone else see the picture of Joe Torre on MAN, that guy looks OLD.

Mega said...

quote from mark "And why shouldn't it: when your team walks out on that field, you don't see black or white, liberal or conservative, guys from the ghetto or guys from the farm. You see people wearing the colors of your team, working together to win."

I agree. I also like how you didn't include the Cubs fans. Diversity doesn't apply to their fanbase.

Travis said...

Wouldn't Bill Clinton make an awesome First Gentleman?

Yes and will make a great Supreme Court Justice on the first opening of Hillary Clintons Presidency.

Kurt said...

I agree with Eileen. Romney has no chance of winning the GOP nomination. Republicans will point to his flip flopping views (he was pro-choice and pro-gay marriage when he was governor of Massachusetts) and now that he's trying to appeal to his conservative base he's suddenly pro-life and speaking out against gays. Massachusetts should ban that fraud.

JCN said...

Is Obama really a "grassroots, blogospheric sensation"? He's definitely got the grassroots background, but I feel like his cult following comes from his telegenic personality. Seems like the rapture over him comes from the press and the swing-vote-middle, not the blogs/roots.

Roge said...

I love Edwards. I hate Clinton. I like Obama. But honestly... I'm not sure if I want any of those people as President. I am a pretty strong Democrat, but I do not vote straight party lines. I think McCain might be the best option.

EPorvaznik said...

cmfrost wrote:
>>Has anyone else notice the differences in diversity when it comes to the candidates from each parties.

The Democrats
Have an African American, A women, and a hispanic currently running for nomination

the republicans
All rich older white men. >>

On the first note, yeah, basically because nobody knows how to keep minorities on the plantation (what a brutha know) and subservient to the federal teat like the Dems.

Re. the second slam posing as a point, it may be wise to remember that age brings a better understanding of how to run a country (in theory), as well as being in one's 50s and 60s isn't exactly considered old in this country much these days. The GOP wants to throw a female hat into the ring to make you happy, I've always thought Elizabeth Dole was far more suitable for the Oval Office than her husband. Oh, you also have to have the dough-re-mi to run a campaign, n'est-ce pas? 9 of the top wealthiest US senators also happen to have a (D) after their names, ya know.

To the topic Dan introduced, Obama may have been co-author of the legislation to enforce full disclosure, but the guy's still a little green to run the country (maybe he's watching too many episodes of 24, who knows).

Oh, Dan, you may consider yourself a political junkie, but you do realize that, regardless of familial ties, you've got to get your nose out of the NY Times, right? I could be wrong, but the nod for universal health care leads me to believe that you don't. Please don't counter with something related to Fox News for me, either, because I don't watch that one any more than I do any of the alphabet newscasts.

chitown italian said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mark said...

I also like how you didn't include the Cubs fans. Diversity doesn't apply to their fanbase.

Well, I didn't precisely mean to slight any Cubs people. Or maybe I did.

--Mark, season-ticket-holding White Sox fan

The HCIC said...

A distinction between Obama and Gilbert...

Obama is not universally loved by the "hip-hop"/Black population. Even the mainstream media has started to pick up that Obama has little to no traction amongst Black voters.

Doesn't this make you suspicious as to the extent of his appeal?

dennis said...

cmfost...not sure if anyone else mentioned this...don't forget that though diverse, the Democratic candidates are all also extremely wealthy. Politics is not a game for the fiscally challenged. It is mostly egos and has been for quite some time.

Unknown said...

• I'm not sure whether the "universally loved and respected" comparison is supposed to be sarcastic or not. Both Obama and Arenas have many, many detractors, many of whom do so vehemently.
• "Yes, I'm with you!"? What? Everything Gilbert Arenas does has people asking eachother if he is crazy!
• "Both are grassroots, blogosphere sensations". Wrong, sorry. Barack Obama, like it or not, is NOT a grassroots or blogosphere sensation. His address at the DNC and subsequent media appearances have been engineered by the Democratic Party. This same point applies to the "aura of accessibility". Obama didn't go "YouTube style" because he WANTED to - he did it because his campaign knows that it will speak to young voters.

Unknown said...

Hillary = Tim Duncan

Uninspiring, yes, but do you want to fucking win or not?

Personally, I'm like an old veteran at the stage where I just want to win, and the only Democrat who has won in the past 32 years-their name is Clinton (or in Gore's case-that's right-has been closely affiliated with Clinton).

A. J. Simon said...

I don't think Eddie Jordan would go on and on about what a bad leader Obama is ... and I hope my feeling for Obama doesn't fade as quickly as my belief in Gilbert Arenas's ability has in the last couple of days . . .

sam said...

was Barack's campaign announcement video the politics equivalent of that buzzer-beater Gil didn't even bother to watch swish in?