If you’re gonna attempt to channel Ronald Reagan to get yourself re-elected, you’d better at least be rudimentally familiar with the Knute Rockne story, and the legend of the Gipper, portrayed by Ronald Reagan in the 1940 film, Knute Rockne: All American.
Obama, the smartest president evah, showed his ignorance of that story Friday in a strangely Obama-centric ceremony for retiring press secretary Robert Gibbs.
Relating an anecdote about forcing Gibbs to surrender his tie moments before Obama’s address to the 2004 Democrat National Convention, Obama says he asked Gibbs to "take one for the Gipper." The moral of Obama’s Gipper story: "I have five ties that nobody likes, so give me yours, so I can wear it for the awesome speech I’m about to give. I’ll give it back to you in about seven years, framed in a nice case."
Outside of the rich irony of a man with five ties taking from a man with one, many people immediately seized upon the "Gipper" part of the quote since we’ve been treated to nauseating Obama-Reagan comparisons of late. Drudge ran a headline "Obama compares himself to the Gipper."
But others noted that Obama shamelessly botched the entire reference, confusing the inspriational "Win one for the Gipper" with "Take one for the team" — an expression of self-sacrifice for the greater good. (I immediately had flashbacks of when Obama slaughtered the Golden Rule claiming he became a Christian because he was inspired to "Do unto others as they would do unto me." Gangsta Rule, Golden Rule … Whatevah!)
In his latest display of cultural ignorance that the media will ignore, Obama apparently doesn’t realize that the Gipper dies, and his last wish is not for his teammates to "take one" for his victory, but that his death will be an inspiration for theirs.
Yes, George "The Gipper" Gipp was the first All-American football player at Notre Dame, and he died of a throat infection at age 25 in 1920. The story has it that George Gipp, on his hospital death bed, asked his coach, the iconic Knute Rockne, to use his memory to rally the team to victory when occasion demanded, which they did in a famous contest against Army in 1928.
Ronald Reagan portrayed George Gipp in the 1940 film about Rockne’s life. (Rockne, incidentally, died in a plane crash in 1931 in the Flint Hills of Kansas on a recruiting trip. I’ve been to the Flint Hills near where the plane went down.) Reagan would later come to be known in his political career by the nickname "The Gipper" after his most-famous role.
"Win just one for the Gipper" was a line Reagan delivered to thundering applause in 1988 at the Republican National Convention in support of then vice president George H.W. Bush, who was about to accept the party nomination for president.
Laugh it off as a lighthearted twist on a familar saying or slip of the tongue, but for Obama to appropriate the "Gipper" without apparent knowledge of its origin shows, frankly, how little he knows or cares about Americana, and how much he values his own ego. The way Obama tells it, HE is the Gipper, and everyone else around him needs to "take one" for HIM, which is a complete perversion of the Gipper story, incidentally.
Reminds me of how Obama called up waivering Congressmen during the Obamacare debates and told them that "his presidency" would be over if they didn’t pass this assinine law. It was all about him, like the iPod loaded with his speeches, like the video screen message in Berlin that referred to himself but not Ronald Reagan in commemorating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Wall.
And yes, even like a ceremony for a departing aide … becomes just one more opportunity for President Obama to talk about himself.
"Take one for the Gipper," Obama says… to all of America.
Unfortunately, we end up having to surrender much more than our neckware.