The Next Chattering Class


The most depressing thing about the Red/Blue conceit is that you know it won't have any real impact on the culture. During the second Bush administration, Hollywood stars will continue to voice liberal views and will be ridiculed for doing so, The West Wing will continue to explore a parallel universe where George W. Bush never became president, a handful of celebrities will continue to whinny about how their conservative views keep them at odds with the other celebrities, the occasional Mel Gibson or Tim Lahaye will continue to break through with a hit aimed at the heartland, and Jerry Bruckheimer will continue to split the difference. Shouldn't the Bush re-election usher in a new era of political skylarking by a different set of ill-informed notables?

Country music stars would seem to be the most obvious choice, but considering the legion of pabulum-pukers who dominate contemporary country, this would be too bland even for a Crawford Monday night. Frank Pastore's emergence as a talking head offers a better way. So my modest proposal: For the next four years, let professional athletes take the lead in voicing half-baked political views.

The advantages are obvious. Who wouldn't rather hear Peyton Manning's views on Social Security reform than Barbra Streisand's? Has Alec Baldwin issued half as many nuggets of political wisdom as Charles Barkley? Hasn't Kobe got a thing or two to say about law and order and feminism? You could even have Bill Walton jump in as the Bill O'Reilly of the new era: Bitching, from a prominent, highly rated post in the national media, about how the conservative elites won't let him get his message out.

And then there's Curt Schilling. While the bleeding hero of the Sox is known as a Bush supporter these days, it is his 2001 letter to America that really stands out: measured, sincere, dignified, practical. That was no small feat in the period after 9/11, when everybody everywhere was saying off-the-charts idiotic stuff in stentorian voices. Schilling's letter looks like the Gettysburg Address compared to most of what was published at the time.

So I say let the athletes speak! Who needs Hardball anyway?