Wednesday, September 24, 2003

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What Arnold hath wrought

I am willing to bet that in entire blogosphere -- hell, the entire mediasphere -- no one predicted this as an outcome of Schwarzenegger's gubernatorial campaign:

Martina Navratilova plans to get into public service after she stops serve-and-volleying in 2005.

Navratilova, who turns 47 next month, said Wednesday at the Sparkassen Cup tournament that she plans to play through the end of next season. Then, she wants to get involved with American politics, perhaps running for office.

"If Arnold Schwarzenegger can run for governor in California, then who knows? I have the muscles," said Navratilova, a Czech-born U.S. citizen who lives in Colorado. "I will be involved, especially the way things are going right now. The conservative party is too strong."

She ranks among the greatest tennis players ever, with a total of 58 Grand Slam titles: 18 in singles, 31 in doubles, and nine in mixed doubles.

Colorado, eh? Well, Navratilova vs. Owens could be an interesting race. It would be much more interesting, however, if the Republicans found a more formidable opponent.

posted by Dan on 09.24.03 at 06:04 PM


I saw this one earlier. One wonders, though, whether Navratilova would generate much enthusiasm? She was the dominant tennis player on the female circuit for years, when she was a man among girls. But she never had any significant endorsement contracts. One wonders if tennis prowess translates into politics.

posted by: James Joyner on 09.24.03 at 06:04 PM [permalink]

Perhaps if Anna Kournikova were to establish Colorado residence. She may not have the muscles, but . . .

posted by: Kel on 09.24.03 at 06:04 PM [permalink]

"Perhaps if Anna Kournikova were to establish Colorado residence. She may not have the muscles, but . . ."

You're thinking "brains" right?

posted by: on 09.24.03 at 06:04 PM [permalink]

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your outlook, Owens is term limited. So. . . , it might not be a problem if Martina were to run against Ben Campbell for the U.S.Senate. But if elected, she'd have to switch parties.

posted by: Stan Morris on 09.24.03 at 06:04 PM [permalink]

Well it's not exactly a brand new phenomenon: Ronald Reagan (actor), Jim Bunning (Phillies Pitcher), John Glenn (astronaut), Sonny Bono (hack songwriter turned hack skier) all parlayed their noteriety into national political office. There were probably others before them ( Military personel to be sure, not so sure about entertainers/athletes.) Unfortunately, my knowlege of popular culture only goes back so far.

What's news here is that Naratolava is not a white male Republican like the guy's above. No, I'm not trying to play some kind of identity politics discrimination card, I'm just stating a fact. A generation or so ago, the idea of a female sports star would have seemed odd. Now that we have female sports stars (and female military leaders) it's not surprising that some of them would go into politics. I don't know that Arnie has much of anything to do with it, other than being the latest in a long line of Celebrities-turned-politicians.

But this got me thinking: most of the prominant examples of celebrity politicians seem to be Republicans. One obvious exception is Bill Bradley. No doubt there are others, but none have come to mind in the two minutes I've spent on it. Any other exceptions come to mind? Or is the celebrity politician a Republican phenomenon?

posted by: uh_clem on 09.24.03 at 06:04 PM [permalink]

The actor from Dukes of Hazzard was a Democrat. Wasn't Fred Grandy from Love Boat a Democrat too?

posted by: Robin Roberts on 09.24.03 at 06:04 PM [permalink]

Could be. I never watched either of those shows, so I wouldn't recognize the actors.

BTW, were you the Robin Roberts who precceded Jim Bunning as the Phillie's Ace?

posted by: uh_clem on 09.24.03 at 06:04 PM [permalink]

Fred Grandy was a Republican.

Tom McMillan was an NBA player who became a Democratic congressman from MD.

posted by: David Nieporent on 09.24.03 at 06:04 PM [permalink]

The aforementioned Ben Campbell was an Olympic Judo-person (??), and he's not a white guy, and he was a Democrat when elected. But add Jack Kemp to the list of White, Male Republicans.

They don't make many people as gutsy and intelligent as Martina. Colorado would be lucky to have her.

posted by: on 09.24.03 at 06:04 PM [permalink]

JC Watts is a black republican.

Other white republicans: Tom Osborne and Steve Largent are two others I can think of.

posted by: bart on 09.24.03 at 06:04 PM [permalink]

I don't think Campbell was exactly a household name due to his olympic judo career, so I wouldn't put him in the same category as Sonny Bono, John Glenn, Arnie, et. al.

Was Jack Kemp really that well known before his political career?

What about J.C. Watts (a non-white, Republican male)?

Or Gerald Ford for that matter?

Since I don't follow football (or didn't back when Kemp, Ford, and Watts were on the field) I don't know how famous they were before their political careers.

posted by: uh_clem on 09.24.03 at 06:04 PM [permalink]

J.C. was pretty well known in Oklahoma, and I'd heard of Steve Largent. I think Bill Bradley was pretty famous for his time in the NBA.

Of course, so few athletes actually become famous outside their local communities, even pros; I can't name more than six Tennessee Titans or Indianapolis Colts, yet there's 53 on each NFL team. Unless Steve McNair, Marvin Harrison, or Peyton Manning ever runs for office, the chances of us remembering the playing days of a current Titan or Colt who runs for office in 10 years are pretty slim. Heck, most of us probably don't even know who the backup QB is on either team.

Usually, though, athletes seem to take a long time off between their playing days and political office (usually detouring into the business world, which may explain why most are Republicans).

posted by: Chris Lawrence on 09.24.03 at 06:04 PM [permalink]

So I can conclude after a rigorous research regimen* that the celebrity policitian is primarily a Republican phenomenon. Aside from Bill Bradley, there have been no prominent Democrats who used fame in the sports/entertainment field to gain election to national office.

On the Republican side we have Reagan, Sonny Bono, Jack Kemp, JC Watts, Jim Bunning, Gerry Ford, and Fred Grandy.

QED, case closed, the jury is in, etc etc.etc.

*hanging around the comments section of an obscure blog and musing...

posted by: uh_clem on 09.24.03 at 06:04 PM [permalink]

Obvious non-Republican celebrity politician: Jesse Ventura.

posted by: Craig on 09.24.03 at 06:04 PM [permalink]

Interesting. Looking at the list of celeb politicians laid out like that, it occurs to me that, on average, they do a far better job as elected officials and representatives than life-long professional politicians.

posted by: Gannet on 09.24.03 at 06:04 PM [permalink]

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