Thursday, February 24, 2005


The GOP, which absolutely hates it when people get involved in politics who have no political experience and are well known only because they entertain people, is about to have a gubernatorial candidate in a large state who has no political experience and is well known only because he used to entertain people:

Former Pittsburgh Steelers star Lynn Swann has filed papers forming a campaign committee for governor, his first official step toward a possible campaign for the 2006 election.

Swann's filing allows him to begin raising money for a campaign. He filed the papers Wednesday, on the eve of his first public speech as a potential candidate - at a Westmoreland County Republican dinner.

He promised to begin "a conversation with the people of Pennsylvania."...

(There's a lot of this going around in the GOP -- you'll recall that Republicans tried to draft Mike Ditka, the former coach of the Chicago Bears, to run against Barack Obama in the Illinois Senate race.)

Now, quite a few athletes have served with distinction in politics, and there are others who might do so in the future. But is Lynn Swann one of them? Well, the national party thinks so much of his political skills that at the 2004 convention it sent him out to speak accompanied by Dorothy Hamill, the figure skater; the party didn't bother to post a transcript of their remarks on its convention Web site.

News stories suggest that Swann has begun boning up on Republicanism 101, but hasn't gotten very far into the textbook. Here's GOP-friendly NewsMax, with a dispatch from the convention:

A Pittsburgh Steelers football legend tells NewsMax why he supports President Bush:

"It's an election year, and I'm involved in this particular campaign as co-chair for the African-American committee for the re-election of George Bush.

"I'm here at the convention. I'm learning quite a bit and enjoying the experience."

Lynn Swann said he had not been active in politics before, though he added, "I have supported Republican candidates in the past, but this is the first time that I just really come out and kinda finally have an influence."

Swann said this year had a "sense of urgency."

"I certainly believe that George W. Bush is the most qualified and most credible candidate to fulfill the role as president of the United States."...

(Well, that's probably better than Ditka would have done.)

Swann has to get through a primary, but if he does, look for the party to tout him as a "businessman," even though his business experience seems to be limited to selling his own memorabilia. (The Republicans pulled that stunt with Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose business experience was similarly limited.)

And, yeah, the fact that Swann is black may mean his candidacy will be part of Karl Rove's never-ending quest to get the GOP's African-American vote permanently up to the low double digits.

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