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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Timmy Thomas refuses to meet Obama

Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, the second American-born player ever to win the Conn Smythe trophy as the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup finals, has caused a bit of a scandal by skipping the team's White House visit with President Obama on Monday. The Bruins are in Washington to play the Capitals on Tuesday evening.
Tim Thomas, one of two American players on last year’s roster, chose not to attend the ceremony. During his six-minute speech in the East Room, Obama mentioned Thomas for his performance in the Stanley Cup Final and how he was only the second American to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as postseason MVP.

“I believe the federal government has grown out of control, threatening the rights, liberties, and property of the people,’’ Thomas said in a statement on his Facebook page. “This is being done at the executive, legislative, and judicial level. This is in direct opposite to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers’ vision for the federal government. Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a free citizen and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion, both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an individual.’’

Bruins president Cam Neely released a statement on the Bruins’ website.

“As an organization we were honored by President Obama’s invitation to the White House. It was a great day and a perfect way to cap our team’s achievement from last season. It was a day that none of us will soon forget. We are disappointed that Tim chose not to join us, and his views certainly do not reflect those of the Jacobs family or the Bruins organization. This will be the last public comment from the Bruins organization on this subject.’’

General manager Peter Chiarelli spoke with Thomas several times about attending the ceremony over the last few months.

Chiarelli said the event was not mandatory.
But in Blue Boston, that wasn't enough and Globe columnist Kevin Paul DuPont slammed Thomas.
We must all celebrate that Thomas, born in Flint, Mich., nearly 38 years ago, has the right to say all of that and more, and we’ve grown accustomed to hearing near-identical dogma from the right wing/conservative/Tea Party end of our political spectrum for the last 2-3 years. He is a free man, living in a free country, and he can sing that blatherall from his hotel room, his crease, and the corner of Causeway and Staniford if he so chooses.

As a country, we’re not yet so deep in the handbasket that any of us has been denied that right. Thankfully.

But yesterday was not about politics and government until Thomas made it about politics and government. The day, long set on the calendar, was a day when the Boston Bruins were asked to visit Pennsylvania Avenue to celebrate what they did as a team last season. It was their day in the national spotlight, until Thomas didn’t show, and then the focal point became, much the way it would be in a hockey game, on the guy who was no longer standing in goal.

Shabby. Immature. Unprofessional. Self-centered. Bush league. Need I go on? All that and more applies to what Thomas did, on a day when Cup teammates Mark Recchi (now retired), Shane Hnidy (a radio guy these days in Winnipeg), and Tomas Kaberle (a member of some Original Six team in Canada), all gladly joined the red-white-blue-black-and-gold hugfest at the White House.

Thomas needed to be there in solidarity, and celebration, with his team. It was the same government yesterday, and will be today, that protected his country, his security, his family, and his right to make $5 million a year, all last season. In his absence, he stole his teammates’ spotlight. Win as a team. Lose as a team. And when asked to stand up and take a bow, then stand up there and suffer if need be, even if you don’t like the setting, the host, or any of the political trappings and tenets that come with it.

Team guys don’t opt out of team meetings or celebrations.
I wonder what DuPont would have said had one of the Red Sox or Patriots or Celtics opted out of meeting George W. Bush when he was in the White House (yeah, it's been a heck of a decade for Boston sports).

At Commentary, Jonathan Tobin defended Thomas (didn't know you followed Boston sports Jonathan):
But the Globe and other liberal outlets that claim Thomas politicized something that had nothing to do with partisan strife are wrong. The business of schlepping team members and officials and their trophy for photos with the president months after their triumph may be a harmless tradition, but as much as the president serves as head of state as well as head of our government, no one should feel obligated to play along with the charade. Thomas was fully within his rights and is no more at fault than any left-wing actors who denied themselves the pleasure of a visit with George W. Bush.

Thomas, the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the 2011 playoffs, was one of only three American citizens on the Bruins and is also an active member of the Republican Party. And because he sports the image of the Gasden flag (“Don’t Tread On Me”), the symbol of the Tea Party, on his goalie mask, it isn’t too hard to figure out where his political sympathies lie. But unlike some Tea Partiers who got in the face of politicians who voted for the bank bailouts, the stimulus or Obamacare, Thomas kept a respectful distance from the event.

Oddly enough, the Globe’s Dupont criticized Thomas as lacking the guts to criticize Obama to his face. Of course, creating an incident at the White House would have been in bad taste, embarrassed his teammates and spoiled their fun. Nor should, as Dupont claimed, his beliefs have obligated him to not represent his country at the Olympics, as Thomas has done. Reading this attack, one can’t help wondering whether he would not be praised in the Globe and elsewhere had his protest been against a Republican president.

Let's go to the videotape. More after the video.

I don't think I'd want to meet Obama either. Of course, like Binyamin Netanyahu, I'd probably have to enter and leave the White House through the service entrance and leave the photographers at home.

The Globe has a poll on Thomas' actions, and frankly he's getting slammed. If you're so inclined, please go here and agree with Tim Thomas.

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At 1:27 AM, Blogger Steve Smith said...

I am not surprised that Thomas is getting slammed in Boston. I would have expected it. On Facebook yesterday, one man posted that he did not give 9 years of his life to the military "protecting that bum's rights" so he could behave that way towards the president. Huh? I thought that people served to protect all of our rights, which included freedom of speech. Apparently, from his line of thought, those rights should only be protected if they agree with the current president.

At 5:58 AM, Blogger ais cotten19 said...

He's an athlete and that's it, his political views have no bearing on anything. When I was in elementary school they taught us to respect your elected leaders even if you didn't like them. He should have just gone and shook our President's hand, just like he did to all the Canucks after he beat them last June. I despise Obama but I would never teach my kids that what Thomas did was ok.

At 6:18 AM, Blogger Malcolm said...

No one at the Boston Globe complained when Red Sox owner John Henry and general manager Theo Epstein, both dyed-in-the-wool Democrats, opted out of the invites to the Bush White House after the 2007 World Series.


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