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Biden, Trash-Talker in Chief

The 2024 presidential campaign has entered uncharted territory — sports.

Now, to be sure, smart politicians claim to be sports fans; it’s political malpractice not to do so when 90 percent of voters are. Pols wear the local team’s jackets at campaign rallies; they know star players’ names and team nicknames; they’ll shout from the hustings, “How ’both those Local Somethings?”

Granted, sometimes they don’t do it well. One well-known politician claimed to be a Yankee fan when she grew up a die-hard Cub fan in Chicago but wanted to become a senator from New York, and then she switched back when she wanted to be president and the Cubs finally won a World Series in 2016. Moving to the South Side, another, the “White Sox kid” who liked to sashay around in a black Sox jacket, fanned when asked to name even one player from his “favorite” team growing up and called his team’s stadium “Cominskey Park.”

Some of the more avid ones insert themselves into the proceedings. Richard Nixon, for example, showed up for the Texas Longhorns–Arkansas Razorbacks “game of the century” in 1969 and presented the winning coach, Darrell Royal, with a plaque post-game in the locker room; Nixon would also regularly attend Washington Redskins’ practices when coached by his buddy George Allen. Ronald Reagan flipped the coin for Super Bowl XIX, albeit by satellite because the game was on the same day as his second inauguration. Presidents since William Howard Taft have thrown out first pitches, usually from a box seat where their feeble little tosses are caught by a catcher in full regalia standing 10 feet away. George W. Bush broke that mold when he threw out his famous first-pitch “cheese” from the mound of Yankee Stadium — a straight, strong, beautiful strike — at Game 3 of the dramatic 2001 World Series. (Barack Obama’s first pitches were looping lollypops.)

All manner of presidents invite championship teams to the White House, where they are presented with a jersey or uniform with their name on the back over the No. 1 (or sometimes the presidential number). The president utters some canned line written by some lackey to showcase his with-it-ness.

Most of the time, anyway. In welcoming the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning to the White House in 2022, Joe Biden made a joke about Lightning Steve Stamkos’ 14 years in the league — see, I can joke about my age! — while ignoring Lightning stars goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, forward Nikita Kucherov, and defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, arguably more integral to the championship than Stamros. He also managed to call league commissioner Gary Bettman, who was standing next to him, “Gary Batman.”

Biden further distinguished himself in welcoming the NCAA men’s champion Connecticut Huskies to the White House after the first of their back-to-back championships in 2023. Center Donovan Clingan recalls: “Took a picture with Joe Biden — a team picture. Joe Biden talked to us for about three minutes and then right after that, he asked us for a picture again.” He also said the president completely ignored the coach, Danny Hurley, a rising star in the college game, and that Clingan couldn’t really understand what he was saying when he was talking, before he said, “Let’s grab a picture.” Again.

Biden Takes It Up a Notch

But never before, to my recollection, has there been so much trash talk about sports.

I first noticed that things on the campaign trail were getting rough a couple of weeks ago when an alleged photo of Donald Trump swinging a golf club made the social media rounds. Trump’s claim that it was not real but AI-generated was inaccurate; it was actually a composite photo in which his head was attached to the body of John Daly. You could tell by the fully extended backswing — not to mention the serious paunch — that the photo is not of 45.

A pretty dirty trick, played on an admittedly big guy — he was listed at 6 feet 3 inches and 215 pounds when he was booked in Fulton County, Georgia, in August 2023 but might more realistically be in the 240 range. The composite is not tied to the Biden campaign, and no one knows where it came from, but it set a tone.

Biden did go after Trump’s golf game in late March when reminiscing about challenging Trump to a game in 2016 — with one condition: “I told him once before when he came into the Oval [before Trump was sworn into office]. I said, ‘I’ll give you three strokes if you carry your own bag.’” Irony is lost on the self-obsessed. Biden insinuates that Trump is too out of shape to schlepp a golf bag around a golf course — 18 holes — while Biden himself can barely make it from the White House to his waiting helicopter. 

As for actual play, Trump would smoke Scranton Joe. According to no less a source than CNN, 45 is pretty nifty on the links. He’s got a nice swing (a little flat on the takeaway, we’re told) and is sound off the tee and in the fairways, but his short game is “dodgy.” Said one pro: “His aim is good, he’s got great alignment and looks reasonably flexible. It also looks like his arms are hanging great, so one would assume his grip is fine. For someone of his age and size, it’s a mighty good action.”

He claims a 2.8 handicap (possibly a stretch), and his game is good enough to have won two club championships. The fact that the tournaments were at his own Florida club unloosed Joe’s sarcastic tongue, however. When in late March Trump bragged about winning the tournaments, Biden, or his handlers, tweeted: “Congratulations, Donald. Quite the accomplishment.”

Unfortunately for Joe, we have film of his game. In one clip that surfaced just after he trash-talked 45, Biden is behind a tiny stone wall — no more than a foot high — over which he has to chip to get the ball onto the green. He slams the ball into the wall, it caroms back behind the cart path, and Biden quickly grabs his clubs to stalk backward to hit the ball again, this time from farther away.

Just last week, in the ramp-up to the NFL draft, Biden brought out of mothballs an old quote from Trump, from 2020, about how he thought the NFL was “boring.” Trump, who used to own a team in a rival league (the USFL), has been critical of the old, established league in the past, and, in 2020, when players were kneeling for the National Anthem, he said this: “Nobody cares about football. They ought to get smart because they can’t win this war. We want people that love our country.” He even called for players who took a knee to be fired or suspended.

Biden accompanied his dig at Trump with photos of Biden welcoming the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, receiving a ball from the Air Force team, and, lastly, holding a ball in his hands and smiling.

Trouble is, the ball Biden’s holding is not an American football. It’s bright red, with rounded ends, and is quite a bit fatter than an American ball. It’s a ball from the Australian Football League. It’s an Aussie Rules ball.

As he himself likes to say, “C’mon, man!”

The post Biden, Trash-Talker in Chief appeared first on The American Spectator | USA News and Politics.

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