By admin | September 2, 2011
By Richard Allen
It seems as though a few NASCAR drivers have decided not to accept an invitation to visit President Barack Obama after he and his administration extended and invitation to them for September 7th. After the drivers’ announcements, a few people on Twitter and Facebook seemed to take exception to the perceived snubs of Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle.
The argument against the drivers who are refusing to join NASCAR Chairman Brian France for the White House visit by many was that even if these individuals don’t care for the politics of the person in the office, the office still ought to be respected.
My argument is that these people do not necessarily owe respect to an office that does not respect them enough to even consider the timing of the invitation.
Before anyone gets their political knickers in a knot, I am talking about both parties when it comes to using prominent citizens such as NASCAR drivers and other athletes as pawns. Presidents, governors, senators and all other office holders and seekers have suddenly become huge racing fans every fourth year on the political calendar. Surely, we are not so naïve to believe these office holders care about our sport when they make an appearance for a pre-race ceremony then leave before the halfway point of the event.
And just to show I am not picking solely on President Obama and the Democrats, one of the most disgusting things I have ever witnessed at a race track was when Republican Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist proclaimed before a Bristol race that he was, “A huge NASCAR fan” over the track’s PA system. I’ll guarantee he couldn’t have named five drivers in the field that night.
These people don’t like or pay attention to racing. They are simply trying to use the participants who have large followings to bolster their vote counts. Why should anyone be condemned for choosing not to play that game?
As far as the office of the president deserving respect, the last several occupants of that office have not respected their citizens as they have carried out such ridiculous spending habits that they have crippled the country’s future by entangling us in massive debt as well as engaging in numerous activities in which they themselves have embarrassed the office. So what respect does that really deserve?
As far as this particular invitation is concerned, why is it being extended at this time? It is supposedly to honor last year’s Chase for the Championship contenders. Really? Is the White House staff not aware that the 2010 playoff took place quite some time ago.
The Super Bowl winning team is not invited to the White House on the eve of the next season’s playoffs. The same is true of the NBA and Major League Baseball champions.
As a teacher of U.S. History, I offer lessons on the Office of the President as well as each individual who has occupied that office. I understand the importance of the position these leaders are in but I also explain to my students that almost everything that happens in that office is meant for political gain.
We all live as private citizens and if we do not want to be used as pawns by the Republicans and the Democrats we should not have to, and that includes race car drivers.
And even better, if it make Brian France look bad to have to explain why some of his drivers didn’t show up, then all the better.
BTW: As a post script, I would not be surprised to see that pressure applied by NASCAR and sponsors doesn’t cause some of these guys to change their minds. You know, to respect the Office of the Presidency.
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