Thursday, July 15, 2004

Ditka for Senate?



It's a good thing I keep at least a somewhat interested eye on the changing face of politics...you know, when I'm not blindly bashing politicians with unharnessed glee.

Otherwise, I might actually be foolish enough to vote for Da Coach if he decides to run for the Senate, which I doubt.

Or will he?

Now, I'm a huge fan of Mike Ditka and anything to do with the Bears. Like many Bears devotees, Iron Mike could viciously blindside me, toss me to the ground, grob his crotch, call me a pansie and toss gum in my hair and I'd look up in awe and say, "You still got it Coach! '85! '85! '85!"

That said, let me also say this: A run for the Senate by Ditka is a joke.

When you look at former members of the athletic world (Jack Kemp, Arnold Schwarzzenegger, Tom Osborne, Jessie Ventura, etc.) who have entered the tricky realm of politics, there is a common theme: They all became involved of their own accord. They all decided - on their own! - that the political landscape was one they wished to attempt to climb. Simply, they had goals and set out to achieve them.

Ditka can't say that.

No, the luring of Ditka is a last-ditch, desperate attempt by the Republican party to get back in a race that Barack Obama is presently running alone. Former Republican candidate Jack Ryan's hopes came crashing down the moment his strange sexual history - which isn't all that strange when you remember that his ex-wife is Jeri Ryan (Wow!) - was inevitably drudged up, leaving the Republicans in a state of shock and, more importantly, utter desperation, which I find enjoyable.

Enter Ditka, the outspoken, gum-tossing, media-bashing, cigar-chomping political neophyte.

Yeah, Ditka just oozes politcal suave, doesn't he?

Republican thinking here is, predictably, so transparent that it renders itself practically comical. It borders on satire. You could easily make a movie, a comedy, about some lame-duck politicians propping up a brainless, but popular, former athlete, and I bet it could be quite amusing. It would also be fiction.

I mean, deciding on Ditka, who has no political experience, and whose very interest in the subject is likely limited, is soooo typically Republican, meaning it's cockeyed and contrived.

And, possibly, just crazy enough to work.

Other than Oprah, there probably isn't another living soul in Chicago who could so haphazardly toss his/her hat into the ring and instantly restore nearly lifeless Republican hopes. (Of course, Oprah is likely much too smart to ever side with the Republicans' conservative views.)

Should Ditka choose to run, all he needs to do is smile, crack a few jokes, light a cigar and tell a few should-have-been-there stories about "The Fridge" and beer-bellied, barbecue sauce-stained Bears diehards will begin fainting like teeny-bopping Justin Timberlake fanatics. Believe me. Ditka's blue-collar, down-to-earth, everyman persona is the reason for his icon status in Chicago, and that larger-than-life persona will be enough to sway some wide-eyed voters, issues be damned.

This is a scary thought, considering Obama is a highly-touted, highly-respected up-and-comer with a legitimate political pedigree and a defined vision for the future, although you may debate this depending on where you hang in the political spectrum. The point is, Obama is a politician...a real politician. He has true merit, real sweat and tears spent for years in his field, to offer.

What does Ditka have to offer? A Super Bowl ring? A Hall of Fame plaque? Discounts at his upscale restaurant?

Well, that ring is representative of my all-time favorite sports memory, and I probably can't afford to eat at Ditka's and...no! Stop it!

See what I mean?

I love Ditka as much as the next Bears lunatic, but it is foolish to think that an aging football icon can suddenly leap into the political fray and be a difference maker with ideas and plans and pull.

Then again, it is the Republican party doing the thinking here, and, personally, I've never found that to be their strong point.

Let's be honest. What the Republicans are doing, essentially, is propping Ditka up and using him. Hardcore. Ditka would be little more the fictious Wizard of Oz to the man behind the curtain, little more than George Bush to Dick Cheney. Hopefully, voters are smart enough to see through this desperate, deceptive ploy, but you never know, especially considering that election day falls in prime football season. Chicagoans with Da Bears on da brain aren't always thinking straight. And if Da Bears are having a good year? Fuggedaboutit!

Ditka, however, should not be painted as merely a brainless puppet being manipulated in this fiasco. Da Coach has been Da Walking Advertisement for years now. He hears the faint whisper of the word "endorsement" and instinctively yells, "It's a deal! Just show me where to sign!" He sells out easier than a Rolling Stones concert.

Yep, Ditka has been more than willing to be the ultimate spokesman. Thus, his possible willingness to climb up on a pedestal for the GOP is far from farfetched. Will he now step to the fore for a party whose leaders stand for bigotry against gays, deceptive wars, more money for the already abundantly wealthy and a litany of other self-absorbed, behind-the-times beliefs?

OK, OK, that's about as much criticism of Ditka as I can muster. I'm beginning to feel ill.

I just hope that Ditka has enough sense to realize that it's better to be wanted for who you are and what you can truly offer, and not what your legacy means to a bunch of wildly scrambling politicians who wish to use it with selfish disregard.

I also hope that the voters of Illinois realize that this competition won't unfold on a football field. Yes, I hope they realize that on this field - the field of politics, the field of the future, the field of the people - Obama is the better man.

Go Bears! 12-4 in 2004! That's right, baby! Believe it!

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