Boo Journal: There Goes the NASCAR Vote

So the First and Second Ladies (Michelle Obama and Jill Biden) were brought in as grand marshals for the NASCAR season finale at Homestead (won in spectacular fashion by the absurdly entertaining Tony Stewart), and there was enough booing from the crowd to turn the story into “Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden Draw Boos at NASCAR Event.” Video is here.

 In our podcast “Boo…Who?”, we poked into political booing and sports booing, and how the two occasionally intersect. Bottom line: it’s often not pretty.

A couple twists worth noting in this case: these weren’t politicians getting booed but the wives of politicians (which would make the booing seem particularly hardcore); and they were there as part of a charitable campaign to help military personnel and veterans (which would make the booing seem to be a complaint about trying to score political points).

Now imagine for a moment that you were the person who handled this event from the White House side. Here’s what I’d like to know:

1. Did you seriously consider the possibility that Mrs. Obama (and/or Mrs. Biden, who happens to be a military mom) might get booed?

2. If so, what did you think was the likelihood?

3. At what point (measured in terms of likelihood of booing or perhaps in volume of booing among the roughly 65,000 spectators) would you consider the event not worth doing?

4. Is your job safe today?

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  1. Lisa says:

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  2. Nanno says:

    Well even Putin was boo-ed this weekend, which is rare due to the fact that with his usual television appearances he “brings his own crowd”.

    The director of the stadium where the fight was held tried saving some face by stating that the booing and whistling was meant for the American (loosing) fighter. Since the booing only started when Putin began speeching, most people say it was because Putin and Medvedev are going to switch jobs and thereby nullify the coming elections.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=armHReCvlP4&feature=player_embedded
    http://www.powned.tv/nieuws/buitenland/2011/11/boegeroep_voor_poetin.html

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  3. TheProspector says:

    Has it come to the point where the President’s wife can’t support a charity without people thinking it is political? Has it come to the point where professionals like yourselves will also make that statement rather than think about whether the booing itself may have been what was political?

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    • Lisa says:

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  4. Deron says:

    1. Expectations of common courtesy were over blown.
    2. Common courtesy, polite, if not, friendly applause. Or, yes, it was expected that they’d boo, but being booed is better than turning down an invitation.
    3. No point. NASCAR made a generous invitation, turning it down would have been rude. Politically, it puts one in the difficult position of turning down an invite that could be seen as an expression of elitism.
    4. Probably not, but that has less to do about the decision than the media play afterward.

    The focus of this is on the White House, but put yourself in the shoes of the NASCAR people. Imagine throwing a party, inviting a special guest, and having the party participants be rude to the guest. Wouldn’t that be embarrassing?

    Now, did you seriously consider the possibility that your guests would be rude to the guest you invited? Did you consider the likelihood? At what point would you have considered not inviting the special guest? Is your job now safe?

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  5. Alex says:

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  6. Mike says:

    I think they thought about this. That’s why Dr. Jill Biden was there.

    I don’t get around much but this is the first time I’ve ever heard about an appearance from Dr. Jill Biden. (I didn’t know that the Vice President’s wife was a doctor). To me, all public appearances by Dr. Jill Biden have been low key affairs.

    Using my patented triple-reverse psychology, this charitable appearance had a even more campaign event appeal to it with Dr. Jill Biden there. What sporting event comes to mind that married women show up to without their husbands – make that a championship deciding sporting event? A certain segment of the NASCAR population felt they were getting played and they didn’t like it. The Republican equivalent might be Mrs. Bush and Mrs. Cheney appearing at an Pacer-Knick NBA playoff game in Indiana supporting the NBA reads program in the spring before the election (or maybe the Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest July 4th on Coney Island).

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  7. Megan says:

    A follow-up to question 1 would be: Any chance you predicted the boos but pressed on so everyone would see/think that NASCAR fans are just a bunch of right-wing, classless red-necks?

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    • Lisa says:

      I’ve heard this theory a lot, but still don’t see the gain. It’s in the press that Obama needs to prop up his white, working-class, male vote. Putting NASCAR fans in a position to look bad on their championship weekend just doesn’t seem like it would further that aim.

      Don’t get me wrong; I can see them doing it, but only if they thought it would further the campaign.

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  8. LivedThereBudDidNotDoThat says:

    Please keep in mind that the boo-ers were hardcore rednecks. Basically, imbeciles who believe:
    – Rush is right
    – Beck is god
    – O’Reilly tells the truth

    My guess is that half the boo-ers are birthers and teabaggers to top it off. If somebody was sitting next to one of the them and asked where President Obama was born, they’d say “Nigeria, or one of them other African countries that Muslims come from.”

    Booing the First Lady and Dr. Biden while they were promoting aide for military personnel and veterans shows a distinct lack of class. They should be ashamed.

    As for whether this was a wise political move – that is a moot point. The wives of the President and Vice-president were doing what wives of Presidents and Vice-presidents do – encourage Americans to help each other. First Lady Nancy Reagan did it for drugs (“drugs are bad, m’kay?), First Lady Barbara Bush encouraged children to read. I’m a liberal (in case you hadn’t figured that out yet), but I would have elbowed the guy next to me HARD if they had booed Mrs. Reagan just because I did not care for President Reagan.

    No votes were lost. Although NASCAR has been widening its fan base over the past couple of decades, their main clientele is still good ol’ boys – many of which obviously are classless enough to boo two women trying to help our armed forces personnel.

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    • James says:

      Consider also that these are people who find entertainment in watching cars go around an oval for hours at a time.

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    • DaveyNC says:

      Because only imbeciles could fail to appreciate the Obama munificence.

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    • grumpy_otter says:

      Once when President Bush threw out the ball at a baseball game, the crowd booed. I was stunned. I hated him then and still do, but performing a ceremonial function should be separate from politics. My point–it’s not just the NASCAR crowd who have no class.

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