Would it matter if he wore the jersey?

Once again, a combination of stories in the local newspaper helps reinforce some of the worst stereotypes of the citizens of our beautiful Bluegrass state. To be fair, some of the idiocy is nationwide. But one story adds a unique Kentucky flavor to the mix.

First, we have a story that half of Kentuckians believe President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Okay, maybe the headline doesn’t do us justice. It’s actually a little better than half: 51%. The other half (or 49%) is divided between the “birthers” who think he was born elsewhere (20%), and those who aren’t sure (29%). And in a wonderful example of half-full vs. half-empty views, the article quotes two African-American legislators: “Sadly, that means 49 percent of Kentuckians are fully ill-informed,” said Rep. Jim Glenn, an Owensboro Democrat and one of six African-Americans in the state House. “I guess some people believe what they want to believe regardless of the facts,” Glenn said. State Rep. Reginald Meeks, a Louisville Democrat and an African-American in the state House, said the poll “shows at least half of Kentuckians are paying attention and realize the president was born in America. “It shows the relationship between the media and an educated electorate.” I’m more inclined to share Mr. Glenn’s pessimism about “fully ill-informed” citizens that Mr. Meeks’ rosy view that “at least half .. are paying attention”. What about the relationship between the media and a half-educated electorate? I guess that’s where Faux News comes in.

And, speaking of President Obama, at least some of our wonderful citizens are informed enough to know he’s planning a televised address to the nation’s schoolchildren next week. And we have reports that many of them aren’t happy about it. In fact, in a poll on the Herald-Leader’s website asking: “Do you want your children to watch Obama’s speech while at school?”, 47% voted Yes and 50% voted No, with 3% undecided. I realize that polls such as this are not accurate, as they don’t guarantee a demographically accurate sample, and don’t prevent multiple votes. (The Obama birth poll doesn’t fall in this category; it was a scientific poll conducted by Daily Kos and presumably accurate). But even if the count of nay-sayers is somewhat inflated, it’s ludicrous that a significant number of parents don’t want their children to hear a pep talk telling them to study hard, do their homework, obey their parents, and maybe they can grow up to be President. The chairman of the Kentucky Republican party actually said that having the President talking to schoolchildren is “very concerning and kind of creepy.” I’m not sure why it’s any creepier than having President GW Bush read “My Pet Goat” to Florida schoolchildren. I guess having a President that speaks in complete sentences has just driven some people completely off the deep end. And apparently this insanity isn’t confined to Kentucky. There have been similar reactions in other states. I don’t know whether to be sad that the ignorance is widespread, or relieved that we’re not at the bottom of the heap.

And now for a truly Kentucky story. Readers from other states may not fully understand this state’s obssession with college basketball. Coaches are treated like royalty from the time they are hired until shortly after their first loss. It doesn’t take many losses before the fans who were throwing rose petals (and maybe even themselves) at the coach’s feet before he had even coached a single practice turn on him and set up Facebook pages demanding his ouster.

Just a few months ago, I mentioned our latest ex-coach, who is getting paid heaping gobs of money to go away just a couple of years after he was the most popular public figure in the state. Now we have a replacement, a slimeball whose previous two jobs involved recruiting violations. But he’s still God, because he hasn’t lost a game yet. The fact that his first season is still months away and he hasn’t done squat doesn’t matter. But the honeymoon may be ending. It’s hard to believe that any sin could be worse than losing basketball games in Kentucky, but Coach Cal may have committed one far worse.

In what he thought was probaby a brilliant PR gesture, he sent a Kentucky basketball jersey to President Obama. That was a major faux pas. In a state where half the people don’t believe our President is telling the truth about his birth, and half of them don’t want him talking to their children, apparently a large number don’t want him tarnishing the golden image of Kentucky basketball. So I don’t suppose wearing the jersey would make them feel any better about letting him talk to their kids.

It’s traditional for Presidents to invite NCAA championship teams to the White House. If Kentucky manages to win the championship during Obama’s term, I wonder if people will object to the team visiting the White House, or whether that would be “creepy”. Maybe it would be okay if he promises not to talk to them. But he probably shouldn’t wear the jersey.

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