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?


I can't imagine one more person will vote to re-elect Obama because of this ill-advised stunt who wasn't planning on it already. Could they seriously have misjudged this severely, or is there something to be gained be sending her in and letting her get booed on purpose. I've read several conspiracy theories, but none of them seem worth the theoretical payoff.


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.


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?


Those people each paid hundreds of dollars for the opportunity to cheer and boo all day. It was an outdoor sporting event at which booing and cheering are regular occurrences. But you'd rather attach the negative intentions to the crowd? Seems naive or willingly obtuse.

And, the crowd cheered loudly for the military family being used as a prop, so they were more than willing to support the charity despite the unwelcome attempted campaign stop by the ladies.

In my opinion, they would have been better served (for the campaign and for any sincere intentions) by first visiting a race and participating as spectators. It would have been more convincing and the audience at large would not have booed.


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?



Right on. I think NASCAR was wrong to invite them.


Completely apolitical huh? MO doesn't go out and make speeches (political) on behalf of her husband? It's not OK to boo that "for the first time in her life she's proud to be an American?" Really?

Politicians' families have long ago stopped being "off-limits" and are now at best political props to score political points and at worst unpaid political operatives on staff. Any political reaction is completely justified these days, including booing.


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).



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?


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.


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.



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


So many republicans call themselves christian and followers of the bible, but once again their hypocrisy and lack of christian love allow themselves to express themselves like low-class rednecks.

What happened to 'love your neighbor' and 'do unto others' in the view of these supposedly 'christian' republicans?

Also, pubs used to believe in liberty and personal freedom, but now pub candidates are required to sign pledges to deprive a woman of liberty in choosing whether or not she carries a fetus to term. Also, they insist candidates stand in the way of personal freedom for gay taxpayers.

They also 'talk' but do not do when it comes to debt and deficits. Clinton gave the U.S. a surplus, but reagan/bush drove the debt and deficits up, and george w bush exploded the debt/deficit taking Clinton's surplus in 2001 and handing Obama a trillion dollar deficit in 2009.

Character, class and common sense would seem to be lacking in many pubs, maybe nascar pubs too.



Not a fan at all of the President. Not a big fan of booing regardless.

Having said that-what were these people thinking sending the First Lady to speak to that audience? She and her husband have both belittled people who 'cling to guns and religion'. Guessing if a survey were taken a large percentage of that audience supports 2nd Amendment Rights and believes is God. In addition a large portion are, were or have members of their family in the military. Again, not a group that would be big fans of the President's policies.

I think the disrespectful tone started with the 2000 election. Bush was treated very unfairly and well below the levels befitting the office of president. It would be easy to continue that with some payback to the democrat now. I don't support that. I refer to the president as the president not Obama.

I say change the tone and the holder of the office in 2012. Don't boo. Oh and if you work in the PR arm of the White House you should be fired for scheduling this.



Ah, typical pub blaming the Dems.

Here's what we have to blame Obama for: DJIA up almost 50% since bush left; got bin laden and other aq leaders when bush couldn't accomplish that mission in over 7 yrs;

many having better access to medical care with the health care; lower deficit for 2010 than bush in 2009, last budget for bush

over 4 thousand dead and 30 thousand injured in bush's war of choice that clearly was a huge mistake;

I could go on, but I am shocked at intelligent people who don't see that without the stimulus that bush started and Obama continued, we might have an America that looks a lot more like the depression 30's than what we've seen since 2009. Mc Cain would likely have followed the pub hoover policy and if Obama loses we may yet see that.

Some, if not most, of the pub candidates are so dumb they encouraged the nation to default on the national debt. How can intelligent people support the GOP?



"classless enough to boo two women trying to help our armed forces personnel" or intelligent enough to see through the Obama administration's weak attempt to win over key Florida voters?

What is more classless, in my opinion, is using this charity as a political tool for re-election.

People don't appreciate disingenuous political schemes. It's ironic that these "good ol' boys" that you mention are more in touch with political and social standards than the overpaid and under performing staff that aides our current President.


I'm a conservative...and I am appalled that Americans would behave so boorishly! Oddly enough, though I am from the foothills of the Tennessee Appalachians, I completely disown the sort of people who would do this--or who would want it done. Have we sunk so low that we cannot even do common decency any longer?

I don't have to like Obama's politics to respect him as my President and as a person. Booing should be reserved for those times when someone does something truly disrespectful (e.g., purposely messing up the National Anthem; telling a joke in poor taste for a laugh, etc.), NOT for someone just standing up to wave at the crowd.

Poor form, southerners. And to think we used to hold ourselves to be true ladies and gentlemen. The NASCAR group is the trailer park trash of the south, in my opinion (yes, I know there are many wonderful exceptions--but not enough).


Not a fan of the booing, but is this form of "free speech" and more distasteful than what the Occupy Wall Street crowd (and their spinoffs in hundreds of cities) are doing every day?

Second, it is probably safe to say the boos were directed at the camera-hungry first lady as opposed to Mrs. Biden, whom most people couldn't pick out of a lineup. There is certainly no doubt that Mrs. Obama's values are counter to that of most of the South, but add on that the bombastic proclamations of superiority, the highly publicized outlandish and frequent vacations, and middle to lower class audience that doesn't normally have a voice on the political stage, and you have a situation ripe for this kind of overreaction. It isn't an excuse, but it isn't exactly a shock either.


It's a win politically for democrats, just like Republicans booing a soldier during the Republican debates.