Archive for December 17th, 2009

Obama and the Linda McMahon Troops Tribute: Dumb and Dumber

In the wake of the following statement, just issued by World Wrestling Entertainment, I don’t believe the White House has a substantive defense of President Obama’s shot on the “WWE Tribute to the Troops” show Saturday night on NBC.

Our Commander in Chief, a chic-seeking kitsch king, has allowed his office to be used in a political campaign in Connecticut, and on behalf of a candidate of the opposition party. Dumb and dumber.

The full text of the WWE statement is below.

Irv Muchnick


World Wrestling Entertainment would like to thank both President Obama and General Petraeus for providing the WWE(R) with taped, non-partisan holiday messages to the men and women in the US Armed Forces to be included in our annual special, “Tribute to the Troops,” this Saturday on NBC at 9 PM ET. This marks the second year that the Commander in Chief has provided a special message for the troops.

For the last seven years, WWE has traveled to the Middle East to entertain troops serving overseas in appreciation for their service to our country. WWE would also like to thank all those responsible in the White House, First Lady’s office and the US Central Command for making this happen.

The request process for the President’s video began in April 2009, when WWE met with Trooper Sanders, Deputy Director of Policy and Projects for the First Lady. WWE continued these discussions after Labor Day as requested. In November, WWE was pleased to receive
confirmation from Matt Flavin, Director of Veterans and Wounded Warrior Policy at the White House, that a Presidential message would be supplied for “Tribute to the Troops.” WWE supplied background information, as well as our production and deadline needs. We received confirmation on Monday that President Obama’s message had been taped, and it was delivered on Tuesday morning.

We are hopeful that everyone, especially the service men and women of the Armed Forces and their families, enjoy “Tribute to the Troops.”

‘Obama’s Shame’ in the Linda McMahon Fiasco … today at Beyond Chron

Obama’s Shame – “Christmas Gift” to WWE’s GOP Senate Candidate Linda McMahon

A Sucker Born Every Minute: Obama Falls for Linda McMahon’s ‘Geraldine Ferraro Statue of Liberty Play’

I am not here to join the pack making the obvious point that President Obama’s shot on “WWE Tribute to the Troops,” Saturday night on NBC, is both an embarrassing affair of state and an immensely stupid political move.

I am here, rather, to get you to join me in full-tilt holiday mirth. This particular Obama pratfall does not call for a chuckle or a guffaw. Give it a gigantic belly laugh.

For it seems that our Nobel Laureate-in-Chief has fallen for one of the oldest tricks in the book: what I call the McMahon family’s Geraldine Ferraro Statue of Liberty Play. Without further ado, let’s get to today’s history lesson.

The White House is trying to soften the context of Obama’s “Tribute to the Troops” remarks. A spokesman said the segment was not taped exclusively for the wrestling promotion whose profits have given license to its former CEO, Linda McMahon, to spend up to $50 million on her candidacy for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut.

Backpedaling like a basketball point guard charged with fast-break containment, the president’s line is that he recorded a general season’s greetings to the American troops in Asia, which were intended for use by any media outlet that wanted it. But whatever the original intent, WWE snapped it up and edited it into its NBC show – in the process, laying claim to the White House imprimatur for its brand.

(And Linda, none too subtly, gets the rub. Note the emphasis in WWE tub-thumping on its support of literacy programs, one of the do-gooder line items in the candidate’s ever-evolving curriculum vitae.)

Now, let’s rewind the tape to December 1984.

It was the year of the “rock and wrestling connection,” as pop star Cyndi Lauper crossed over for an extended shtick with what was then called the World Wrestling Federation. Lauper’s video of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” – starring the guiding light and manager of tag-team champions, the late great Captain Lou Albano – had become an early anthem of MTV. She was named one of Ms. magazine’s women of the year. Another awardee was Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, fresh from her experience as Walter Mondale’s failed vice presidential running mate.

At the Ms. awards banquet, a WWF TV recording crew was on board. Captain Lou and Hulk Hogan were there, too.

A producer stuck a microphone in front of Gloria Steinem, the founding editor of Ms., and asked her to recite the words, “Rowdy Roddy Piper, I don’t think much of a man who wears a skirt.” Steinem dutifully complied. Not being familiar with Steinem’s viewing habits, I have no idea whether she knew that Roddy Piper was Hulk Hogan’s No. 1 antagonist of the season, and that one of the ways Piper “drew heat” was to enter the ring clad in Scottish kilts. The ringside hecklers called the kilts a “skirt.”

Next, the producer turned to Geraldine Ferraro and fed her this line: “Why don’t you fight like a man, Piper?” Well, whatever, Ferraro must have thought.

Two months later Hulk Hogan and Rowdy Roddy Piper met at Madison Square Garden in the “War to Settle the Score.” The show aired live on MTV and drew record ratings. At the beginning of the broadcast, a montage of celebrities including Andy Warhol (who, uniquely, may actually have been in the building that night) spoke on camera, creating the illusion that the “wrestling resurgence” that was then the rage of the tongue-in-chic crowd reached all the way to the Upper East Side.

Steinem’s and Ferraro’s clips from the Ms. banquet night were part of the montage. The gossip columnists clucked. The very unvicepresidential-looking Ferraro was aghast. She told the gossip columnists she’d been duped.

Apparently, something similar has happened to the president of the United States. P.T. Barnum, Linda McMahon’s forebear in Connecticut chicanery, was supposed to have said that there’s a sucker born every minute. What Obama has proven is that, even for those so born, in this great country anyone can still some day find himself occupying the Oval Office.

Irv Muchnick

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December 2009