Obama and the White Sox

The only time that Barack Obama and I were in the same photograph was when the Chicago White Sox went to the White House as a guest of George Bush after they won their first World Series in about a hundred years. The Tribune captured that historic moment (historic for me, not so much for the senator) and my family got a big kick out of it. That was well before he announced he was running for president.

Today, the White Sox are up five and a half games on the Minnesota Twins, despite having their two biggest power hitters batting only slightly north of the Mendoza line. The last time I checked, Paul Konerko was hitting around .200 and Jim Thome was hitting around .220. Not very good for them, but despite their batting woes, the White Sox have been able to climb to a solid lead in the Central Division.

You can look at this two ways. You can say that the White Sox are so good that when these guys get hot, they are going to win it all. Or you can say that this is a sign of bigger weaknesses yet to come.

The fact of the matter is that nobody knows. We are in the middle of June and the World Series doesn’t end until November, which happens to be right around Election Day.

Which brings me to the presidential election.

Barack Obama has sprung to a five-point lead over John McCain.

That is both good news and bad for the Illinois senator. It is good news because it is always better to be winning than losing.

But it is also bad news for Obama, given the state of the Republican Party. Given the approval ratings of George Bush and congressional Republicans, Obama should be up by at least 20 points.

Obama has shown his own weaknesses in the middle of his lineup. Many working-class Democrats are not comfortable with him as their presidential candidate. They see him as an elitist on one hand and as a radical on the other.

Obama also doesn’t do well with a key swing vote, older Americans. They just don’t think he has enough experience to be president.

Obama does do well with rich, upper-middle class Democrats — and, of course, he does well with African-Americans.

In other words, Obama does well with yuppie Cub fans, but he doesn’t do as well with blue-collar White Sox fans.

About the only thing I agree with the junior senator on is our shared love of the White Sox.

My great-grandfather, grandfather and my dad were all White Sox fans, so if I became a Cub fan, I would be written out of the will.

Obama, on the other hand, is a transplant to Chicago, so it is remarkable that he is a White Sox fan at all. Most transplants flock to the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.

Of course, it is good politics for a South Side politician to root for the White Sox and not the Cubs. Not to suggest that Obama is a Sox fan only for political reasons, but you do have to wonder …

In any event, it is a long way to go for both the White Sox and Barack Obama. It should be an interesting summer.


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