I wonder if this is a side-effect of spending a good chunk of one’s childhood in Swiss finishing schools:

On Sunday and into Monday, Kerry hit Michigan, where he attempted to use the same Ohio jokes. Clearly, the sports humor has to be taken out of his hands before he really embarrasses himself.

“I just came here from Bowling Green,” Kerry told the crowd to subdued applause. “I was smart enough not to pick a choice between the Falcons and the, well, you know, all those other teams out there. I just go for Buckeye football, that’s where I’m coming from.”

At that point, before all the boos began raining down upon him, Kerry seemed to realize his error. In an attempt to silent the angry crowd of University of Michigan supporters, Kerry said, “But that was while I was in Ohio. I know I’m in the state of Michigan and you got a great big M and a powerhouse of a team.” Then his face, presumably, the Botox permitting, turned Big Blue.

Now granted, I’m not exactly normal on this particular issue, having lived and breathed college football virtually from the womb (I’m also a freelance sportswriter, and wrote a book about the game ten years ago), but it’s just hard for me to grasp that level of cluelessness about such a primary aspect of American life and culture.

This is not real hard to understand, for normal humans: You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind, you don’t pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger, and you don’t boost Buckeye football in front of Michigan fans.

On the other hand, Kerry should probably be thanking his lucky stars that he isn’t campaigning down South. If he’d gone and said, “I just go for Volunteer football, that’s where I’m coming from,” in front of a crowd of Alabama fans, he probably wouldn’t have survived the aftermath.


45 Responses to “Fumble”

  1. Sekimori Says:

    No. I think even the Secret Service guys would have stood quietly aside in that instance, pretending to be very interested in the local cloud formations.

    Roll Tide. 🙂

  2. Will Collier Says:

    I thought you’d like that one… 😉

  3. Banana Oil! Says:

    What universe is this guy from?

    As has been well covered by other blogs, US presidential candidate John Kerry committed a faux pas by lauding Buckeye football while standing within the boundaries of Michigan.

    Will Collier at VodkaPundit had my favorite pithy take on it:

    This is…

  4. Bloodthirsty Warmonger Says:

    And just as surely as the sun will rise in the east tomorrow morning, he will declare with his dying breath that his speechwriters got him into trouble!:~)

  5. Johnny Walker Red Says:

    Or it could have been even worse than your TN/AL example: he could have told a crowd of Alabama fans “I just go for Auburn.”

  6. Eno Says:

    Or he could have supported Pitt in front of WVU fans resulting in his furniture being burned. The list is endless. The real scary thing as you point out is the guy is totally clueless about college football, a thing (maybe ridiculously) important to many Americans.
    Kind of like not knowing anything on a Wendy’s menu, huh?

  7. Robert Says:

    Even better is the next item, when the Kerry campaign decided not to send the Lady Teresa to the Citicorp building:
    ‘”We nixed it when we realized she might actually have to interact with real people in an unstaged event,” says a Kerry advance staffer.’

    She probably thinks the peasants are revolting.

  8. Sekimori Says:

    I dunno, Johnny, at least the Auburn fans have the grace to pull for an Alabama team. Pulling for Tennessee…that’s just WRONG. We’ll neither forget, nor forgive, those stupid orange shoes…

  9. Sgt. Hulka Says:

    The Kerry media let this story quietly die, of course.

  10. Mike M Says:

    If Kerry had made this mistake in Ohio he would have been crucified by the local media. I can’t really blame him for not knowing BGSUs rival, but botching OSU/Michigan? He might as well have held a Yankees rally during the Democratic convention…

    Another tick on the “clueless” list. Individually, Kerrys gaffes don’t seem like much but as he bungles and insults his way around the counrty they really start to add up.

  11. BoDiddly Says:

    A “balanced” count of gaffes comparing Kerry and Bush would be interesting. We’re always bombarded with some real gems from Bush, but he’s been under intense constant scrutiny for over four years now (more if you count quotes from when he was Governor of Texas). Meanwhile, Kerry’s racked up quite a few in under a year.

  12. McGehee Says:

    If only he could convincingly claim he’s been drunk all during the campaign…

  13. dave Says:

    It’s too bad CA isn’t competitive. We’re not as passionate about the game as midwesterners or southerners (excepting some Raiders fans), but the cognitive dissonance caused by trying to support both USC and UCLA at the same time while in LA (or Stanford and Cal while in SF) would be fun to watch.

  14. DannyNoonan Says:

    When he stopped at the Huber Brewing Co. in Monroe, WI on his way to Iowa, he was given a keg to take on the bus and he thought it was Ice Cream.
    So he knows nothing about sports or beer. A real man’s man.

  15. Rob Says:

    Good ol’ Regular John. He is really one of us. I remember fondly when my own wife pointed at a McDonald’s and said “What is that?” Then there was the time I went to the DMX concert and wore my Klan hood. This type of thing can happen to anybody.

  16. Nick Says:

    My friend attended a John Edwards rally in Louisiana 2 days ago, and he made a similar gaffe:

    “How about those Louisiana State Tigers?!!”

    I lived in Baton Rouge for 20 years, and I don’t think I ever- literally not even once- heard an actual LSU fan utter the words “Louisiana State Tigers”.

    Man, these people are clueless.

  17. Silicon Valley Jim Says:

    It doesn’t bother me that he’s not a college football fan. It bothers me that he wants to portray himself as one and can’t get even the simplest things right.

    Isn’t the President supposed to be the stupid one?

  18. Matt Says:

    See this is one mistake Bush didn’t make in Texas. Since he went to Yale, he could safely root for Laura’s school (SMU) with out alienating half the voter base by picking tu or A&M.

  19. saw varsity's horns off Says:


    Are you saying that SMU has a football team?

  20. denise Says:

    With all due respect to the other football rivalries mentioned here, Michigan/OSU is in a league of its own.

    There’s even that ESPN add with the girl in the UofM shirt smooching with the guy in the OSU shirt. It made me nauseous, and I’m from Kansas and not much of a college football fan. (Then of course the tag line: “Without sports, this wouldn’t be disgusting.”)

  21. David R. Block Says:

    SMU USED to have a football team. Then they got caught cheating big time in recruiting, and the rest is history.

    A return to the Eric Dickerson glory days is not likely, though.

    Oh yeah, Gig ’em!!

  22. bains Says:

    how typical…

    a Buckeye supporter while in Ohio, a “Big M” supporter while in [W]ichigan.

    Ya suppose he roots for the ‘Hurricanes’ while in Iowa?

  23. Larry J Says:

    This thread brought back happy memories of growing up in Alabama during the 1960s and 70s, the glory days of Alabama and Auburn football. In those days, when people talked about “mixed marriages”, they weren’t talking about trivial matters like race or religion. No, they were talking about the sheer wrongness of an Alabama fan marrying an Auburn fan. Some things should just be against the law…

    About 10 years ago, the New York Times of all places had a great piece titled “The Iron Bowl Cometh” on their editorial page. I remember it saying to the effect, “Some people compare the rivalry of the Alabama/Auburn game to peace in the Middle East, which is of course absurd. After all, there may one day be peace in the Middle East.”

  24. George Traylor Says:

    As a die-hard college football fan (GEAUX TIGERS!!), I think I would have chunked my open beer bottle (thank heavens for Saturdays in Baton Rouge) at the stage had I been in front of someone who actually said “Louisiana State Tigers.”

    What a putz. I thought he was supposed to bring the “Southern” vote, and he botches the name of an SEC team?


  25. Will Allen Says:

    I’ll be charitable and note that when you are travelling from one stop to another, and giving a variation of the same speech, it might not be so hard to get confused as to which state you are in, particularly when the states are adjoining, and the tendency to throw the auto-pilot switch kicks in, after the 23rd repetition. Having said that, talented politicians don’t do it very often, and one of problems in handicapping this race is that neither contestant is extremely talented. In all but the hands of a very few masters, the tools of politics quickly reveals most politicians as being the a-holes they commonly are.

  26. mindpunk Says:

    Why do Kerry and Edwards feel the need to connect with the audience in this way? Even if they don’t flub the details, does anybody really believe they give a rat’s a## about college football or share anyone’s particular allegiance? Even if it’s executed flawlessly, this tactic is still transparently cynical and false. And wouldn’t it be best to steer clear of the whole OSU/Michigan issue in those battleground states?

  27. Will Allen Says:

    I agree with you, mp, but then, I don’t make my living judging the mechanics of mass appeal. Maybe these “experts” are behind the curve, and thus haven’t yet noticed that this sort of banal rhetoric simply doesn’t play in a media-savvy culture.

  28. mindpunk Says:

    Will, I’d be curious to hear from some working campaign operatives about the effectiveness of “pep-rally” style politicking. Maybe it still works. Maybe were not exactly the target demographic, we savvy readers of this here blog. But it sure doesn’t play well with me, and it seems to underscore the sheer vacuity of modern presidential politics and the unseriousness of the men who pursue high office.

  29. MarkD Says:

    Botching this might be the only thing that would turn the leftist on Ann Arbor’s campus from turning against him. Of course the paper their is left of the NYTimes so they’ll dutifully bury it.

    I can’t believe with the hundreds of advisors on his staff he doesn’t have one former wolverine or buckeye that would have known to tell him to get this right no matter what else he did? heck any COLLEDGE football fan should have known this. It’s true what they say about these beltway types being out of touch.

  30. drew Says:

    I think I might rather have a president that occasionally offends a few meat-heads by getting a college rivalry wrong than a president who doesn’t even know the name of the prison where a huge scandal is currently taking place.

    Abu…Gareff? Giraffe?…uh..won’t get fooled again….

    If it’s that important to you, then just write in Bo Schembechler.

  31. BA Says:

    He knew the name. He just had trouble pronouncing it (as would most Americans, to be honest). But whatever makes you feel superior to the sheeple, dude.

  32. Cybrludite Says:

    He bbosted OSU at Michigan? Maybe he’s trying to prove that he really did earn that Bronze Star for Valor… (Or maybe he just wanted to add anouther Purple Heart…)

  33. Cybrludite Says:

    Er, boosted.

  34. tim Says:

    Kerry is just a douche bag.

  35. Darren Says:

    At this rate, I’m hoping he comes to Boulder and starts propping up Nebraska…..I can smell the burning couches already.

  36. Rob Says:

    “With all due respect to the other football rivalries mentioned here, Michigan/OSU is in a league of its own…I’m from Kansas and not much of a college football fan.”

    Har. Let me try: I never listen to music, but that Britney Spears chick can really sing, huh?

  37. Captain America Says:

    As long as we’re pointing out gaffes, here’s one:

    “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we,” Bush said. “They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

  38. T.Will. Says:

    From the “Where Real Life Imitates Commercials” Department. I’m thinking the one where the rapper is up on stage at the end of his show, the crowd is pumped up, and the guy hollers out “Thank you Detroit!” The crowd goes deathly still. His sidekick leans over very nervously and says, “Uh Detroit was last night.” Wanna Get Away?

  39. rosignol Says:

    Well, cap’n, here’s another for you-

    We will add 40,000 active duty troops

  40. Greg D Says:

    Yo, “Captain”,

    I sure hope our people never stop thinking up new and innovative ways to hurt America.

    It’s hard to defend against threats you haven’t considered.

    And you call BUSH “stupid”?


  41. Mike Caldwell Says:

    Well, I LIKE the orange shoes, especially when they’re kicking some Bama ass. God, College Football Season is just days away. My nipples are hard.

    Oh, yeah. GO VOLS!!

  42. Rob Says:

    Hi Mike- did you enjoy the Peach Bowl the last few years? Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  43. usBlarg! Says:

    Where am I?

    As innocent as it seems, this is one of the main reasons I don’t trust John Kerry:…

  44. T.Will. Says:

    I know this is an old post, but there seems to be a trend:

    (Think it’s been a long trip for Teresa? On a slow pass through Arizona last night, Teresa took the microphone and said, “Hello, Nevada!” Kerry leaned into his fatigued wife quickly and said, “Arizona.” “Oh, Arizona!” she replied. “We’re in Arizona. We’re still in Arizona. and we are going to Nevada. If you’ve been in as many places as we’ve been in in the past 12, 13 days, even if you have a map, the hours make you mix them all up.”)


  45. Neutiquam erro... Says:

    Where am I? And what is it these people want to he

    As innocent as it seems, this is one of the main reasons I don’t trust John Kerry:

    To get his Ohio rallies up and rolling, Kerry used a set of jokes to open his events. In Bowling Green, his shtick went something like this:

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