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January 25, 2012

Presidents Are Not Kings; Americans Not Obliged To Appear When He Beckons

Iíve never played hockey, have rarely watched it, and donít understand the game well enough to appreciate its intricacies Ė in other words, Iím not a Canadian. But I do know what the Stanley Cup is, though, and that the Boston Bruins won that championship this year Ė and that one member of the team, Tim Thomas, created something of a fuss this week when he chose not to go to the White House with the team to meet President Obama for a photo op because of his rejection of what he sees as big government out of control.

Needless to say, some took exception to that. Perhaps the dickweediest of the dickweeds was Boston Globe hockey writer Kevin Paul Dupont, who seems to think that we are all subjects of Obama who must appear on bended knee when summoned. After first snidely dismissing the beliefs of conservatives, libertarians, and Tea Partiers as ďblatherallĒ, Dupont really unloaded on Thomas.

Shabby. Immature. Unprofessional. Self-centered. Bush league. Need I go on? All that and more applies to what Thomas did, on a day when Cup teammates Mark Recchi (now retired), Shane Hnidy (a radio guy these days in Winnipeg), and Tomas Kaberle (a member of some Original Six team in Canada), all gladly joined the red-white-blue-black-and-gold hugfest at the White House. Thomas needed to be there in solidarity, and celebration, with his team. It was the same government yesterday, and will be today, that protected his country, his security, his family, and his right to make $5 million a year, all last season. In his absence, he stole his teammatesí spotlight. Win as a team. Lose as a team. And when asked to stand up and take a bow, then stand up there and suffer if need be, even if you donít like the setting, the host, or any of the political trappings and tenets that come with it.

What bullshit! Indeed, Iíll take it a bit further Ė what UNAMERICAN bullshit. Not only did Thomas have the right to write the Facebook statement he made about not attending the event (something Dupont reluctantly and contemptuously conceded is Thomasí right as an American), but Tim Thomas also has an absolute right under the First Amendment of the Constitution to refuse to associate with any individual or group Ė including government officials Ė who he chooses to no associate with. He also has the right to go about his business even when invited to the White House by the president. After all, this is not a monarchy, where the sovereign can require a command performance by subjects. This is America, and we have the right to tell the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania to take a long walk on a short pier if we choose. Demanding that someone submerge their political values and ďtake one for the teamĒ in such an instance is a demand that someone be less than an American.

And frighteningly enough, Obama apparatchik Dupont then goes on to question Thomasí patriotism.

If Thomas is feeling the way he is today, it could not have happened overnight. He must have felt much the same just shy of 24 months ago when he sounded so proud to wear that Team USA sweater at the 2010 Olympics, and so proudly dipped his head to accept that silver medal. Or was he doing all of that under governmental duress, the pain of knowing our leaders were acting, as he wrote yesterday, ďin direct opposition of the Constitution and the Founding Fathersí vision of the Federal government.íí Someone so disgusted with our government ought to turn in the sweater and the medal. It must be a horrible burden, if not a pox, to have them in his house.

Dupont is wrong, of course, in his assessment. Tim Thomas loves his country. It is the government he has a problem with. Unfortunately, folks like Kevin Paul Dupont canít separate the two, and believes that one cannot love and represent one without embracing the other, flaws and all.

Of course, Dupont isnít the first to hold such a view. The leader of German from 1933-1945 and the leaders of the nations behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War had the same sort of mindset. Athletes were expected to mouth the right political beliefs in support of policies of the Nazi or Communist Party in order to be permitted to compete. Dupont actually hints that the Bruins should impose similar sanctions against their star goalie for his failure to follow the party line.

Now Dupont would argue that my characterization of his position is wrong, and point to this part of his column.

Thomas didnít need to issue a written statement yesterday, not when he could have made one by showing up at the White House and quietly picking his moment to utter a few simple words of disappointment to President Obama. How easy, how far more courageous and honorable, it would have been to say, ďHi, Iím Tim Thomas, and I appreciate the fact my team was invited here today. I donít like whatís going on in this country. Iím not the least bit impressed with your leadership. But I am proud of what we did, Iím proud to be an American, proud to be a Boston Bruin, and Iíd like to see everyone in the government do a better job of adhering to the Constitution. Oh, and Iíve got a question for you about power plays Ö íí

But based upon the totality of his column, Iím pretty sure how Dupont would have responded if Thomas had gone to the White House and made even the muted, emasculated political statement that Dupont claims would have been acceptable. I believe it would have looked something like the column that Dupont wrote Ė except the words ďShabby. Immature. Unprofessional. Self-centered. Bush league.Ē Would have been used to describe the act of daring to make the political statement at the White House and embarrass the president in his home on a day that was supposed to be about the team. After all, it isnít really the medium that Thomas used that Dupont objects to, or even the venue that Thomas chose to express his beliefs. As I noted at the beginning of this post, it is the beliefs expressed by Tim Thomas and millions of other Americans that Kevin Paul Dupont really objects, and so the fact that they are being expressed at all is obviously the thing with which he has a problem.

Personally, I have only one problem with how Tim Thomas handled the situation. I donít think he should have released the statement on Facebook. I think he should have called a press conference and read the statement in public. In front of the White House. But then again, thatís just me.





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Comments on Presidents Are Not Kings; Americans Not Obliged To Appear When He Beckons

I don't blame Tim one bit...I would have done the same...I respect the office of the President yet, not sure that I would be able to show respect to the man in the office....how awkward it would be to have to meet him in person....So thanks for you to standing up for his right to do so...Too many sheeple already in this country!

|| Posted by chellethesouthernbelle, February 2, 2012 10:45 AM ||
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