Friday, November 07, 2008

Oh, that Bob!

If you were listening to Prime Time Sports Wednesday you just knew that Bob McCown's comments about the U.S. presidential election were going to cause controversy.

Your best bet is to listen to the comments yourself, but basically McCown made the argument that Barack Obama may not have won if he was white--that his massive popularity with African-Americans drove the participation up in that demographic and helped Obama overcome his inexperience (he isn't that much more experienced as a single term senator than Sarah Palin is, yet Palin's inexperience became a major issue).

It's a nuanced argument and one that doesn't translate well on talk radio--especially sports talk radio. But, coverage in today's Globe and Mail doesn't seem to be fair. Although McCown is given the opportunity to explain the comments, William Houston's reportage doesn't accurately convey the complexity to what was being discussed. Predictably, the comments section is lighting up with people a little too eager to yell the R-word (usually relying only on second hand information).

Not that McCown needs the help, but I was compelled to defend him in the comments. I wrote:

I'm not sure many here heard the comment McCown made. He was, in fact, suggesting that there were many voters that were drawn to Obama because of race. He never placed a value judgment on it and he consistently said that he was a supporter (of his) throughout the race.

The comment was made immediately after his co-host said that the win represented a shift in American thinking. McCown challenged that by pointing out exit poll data that showed that close to 70 per cent of older, white male Americans did not vote for Obama. When you factor in the increased turn-out among black voters and the near monopoly Obama had in that vote, then you can argue that it was a significant factor in his win.

Mr. Houston's column, and the replies to it, don't at all represent the complexity of what McCown was trying to say. Additionally, there seems to be an inference/assumption that there was an underlying dismissal to the win. McCown didn't argue that Obama "only" won because he was black (and therefore the victory is less legitimate). He argued that his race was a major contributing factor to his win. He also stressed that his win was a good thing for the United States.

McCown's program is available on podcast. The comments were in the first 20 minutes of Wednesday's show. Perhaps people should listen to it before making further judgment.


Dennis Prouse said...

If I want to listen to political banter, the last place I am going is to a sports talk show. McCown should just stick to sports. He makes the mistake of thinking that people actually care about his political views and theories. News flash, Bob - they don't.

If he wants to get into some other issues, he should take a page from Jim Rome's book. Rome riffs on pop culture frequently, but he generally stays away from straight up partisan stuff.

sager said...

Some have said that Houston can be a lot tougher on broadcasters and journalists who are not a part of the corporate family he belongs to.

Anyways, I should stay on the side of caution and not do as Bobcat did. People want to point to the African-American vote making all the difference, that is understandable. I see this in terms of gender and social class too.

He won among women, as the Dems usually do. He is probably the first Democrat since whom, Jimmy Carter in 1976, Lyndon Johnson in 1968, who held his own vs. the Republican among male voters.

The other one was that Obama won among all education levels. That's a far cry from the elitist tag that often gets put on his party.

The big shift was that voters 18-29 turned out in bigger numbers and they were even more solidly Democratic than usual. That went for whites, Hispanics and African-Americans.

That group probably also represents a larger percentage of the electorate and of the whole population than it did in 2000 and '04.

There were probably more babies born in the U.S. from 1979-90 than 1975-86 or 1971-82. There are more people in that demo, and they turned out in far greater numbers than their predecessors.

The question becomes as that group goes along and gets older, where will their priorties go?

And how badly does the U.S. need a viable third party?

kinger said...


Anonymous said...

You mean LBJ in 1964, don't you?
You obviously forgotten Mr. Johnson's famous "I shall not seek nor accept" speech prior to the 1968 campaign.
Bobcat is certainly entitled to his opinion...whether anyone would "seek or accept" it is entirely up to each individual.
I am just thrilled to see a new president who can actually say a paragraph or two without tripping over his own tongue.

sager said...

Yes, good catch, 1964 was LBJ ... but I have not forgotten anything, I wasn't alive in 1968!

(Not gonna say which Canadian columnist I read who had Bush beating Dukasis in 1984 instead of '88 ... He merely had editors to catch this one, while I have the best commenters around!)

Pete Toms said...

Dennis, bang on. I don't read sports blogs for political news / views. I read Houston's column - I usually do - but didn't hear McCown's full comments. As for Rome, I don't give a crap what he thinks about everything.

Read Rex Murphy in The Globe today. He's right, Obama vs McCain never was a contest. Obama vs Clinton, that was the heavyweight tilt. Sports metaphor intentional given the forum.