Ivan Maisel and company are currently rolling through a weeklong series on the follies of Arkansas athletics, with Maisel turning in his bit on Houston Nutt's disastrous offseason of FOIA requests, accusations about his personal life, and his struggle with a crack cocaine habit that Whitney Houston called "scary, man."*
Whitney Houston: could have, in a parallel universe, commented on Houston Nutt's nonexistent but dramatic crack habit. Rumorz r funn!
At one point, Maisel referred to the tactic of accusing Nutt of cheating on his wife and lying about who he contacted and when as "Rovian," a reference to Karl Rove, head political adviser for Bush and possible sheepfucker**. Maisel, who himself spends his weekends out of the office doing GOD KNOWS WHAT with local teens***, wrote this:
The innuendo came at no extra charge. Nutt's detractors have put him in the impossible position of proving a negative -- he must have cheated on his wife because there is no proof that he did not.
It is a maneuver borrowed from national politics, Rovian in style and execution.
Fair enough--it's a page straight out of backwoods politics as played by both parties but perfected by the Lee Atwater school of campaigning, summed up best in Atwater's famous quip "Let's strip the bark off this son of a bitch."
Maisel goes on to compare this to the Swift Boat ads against John Kerry, and states that "Kerry's candidacy never recovered."
Maisel leaves out that Kerry may or may not own Mauritanian slaves, shoots cats tossed from a catapult for fun in his leisure time****, and always has a really, really complicated order for the poor barista at Starbucks. Or that he resembles an enormous talking tree with a toupee stapled to the top. Or that Bob "0-7" Shrum ran his campaign, the political equivalent of hiring Marty Schottenheimer for the playoffs.
(A more apt comparison for college football would be Notre Dame, and that Bob Shrum has been returning to greatness since the Carter Administration. Actually, that's unfair--Notre Dame won in the 80s and early 90s. Shrum hasn't.)
Anyway, James Taranto, Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal writer, steps on Ivan's toes for the attempt at political comparison:
Doug and Ivan, we're sure you're very good at TV criticism and sports analysis, respectively. But please leave political punditry to the pros. We offer this advice for your own good.
...said Taranto, who may or may not have run down a dog with his car for fun this weekend. Oh, SNAP! Guess we'll be scrapping that piece paralleling the advance of the spread option with the professionalization of grassroots advocacy groups! (You're welcome, reader.) Are all political writers this hacky? He doesn't even bother to back up his assertion here, just slapping Ivan with a cheap shot and bumping down to the next point--even though the term Rovian is a fine use of verbiage here followed by an admittedly wobbly bit of political assertion most people probably glanced over on their way down to the Houston Nutt quotes.
And as for pros...the crux of the matter (and a glimpse into the antediluvian pre-wired brain of Taranto here) is that there are no pros anymore, especially in political writing, a bottomless pit of invective fueling the biggest sites on the internet not involving double penetration or cheap pharmaceuticals. (We didn't know there were sites not involving these. If there are, we'll never read them.)
And if every asswipe on the planet feels like they can chime in on sports, why can't Ivan Maisel tapdance a bit into politics, something that isn't half as important to most people as sports. Maisel's real problem isn't the comparison he makes in the Nutt case. It's the piece itself, where Maisel glosses over the accusations as if they didn't matter at all.
We see you too, Houston. That's what you're paid for, in addition to coaching football. Being public.
The thin sliver of Arkansas fans who FOIA'd Nutt's cell phone records are brain-fluke-infected bonkers, yes. But that's a possibility for coaches today--nothing is private, and they're compensated accordingly in their hefty paychecks for that loss of privacy. For Nutt to moan about his integrity being compromised violates the terms of his contract as a public figure, something Maisel's complicit in by penning the polish job on Nutt on ESPN.com.
This is especially true when Nutt assaults the media for wondering out loud whether a thousand texts in a month to a woman not named his wife isn't a bit unusual. If we sent a thousand texts to a woman in a month, she better owe us a huge sum of money or else Lady Swindle's using us as a pincushion. And that's not baseless and interesting speculation, either. Seriously, she'd totally fucking stab us, and not in that good Miss Manticore way, either.
*Completely and totally untrue! But don't let it stop an Arkansas fan from insinuating it. We'll let you take the idea for free.
**Also untrue! But innuendotastic!
***Or doesn't! Who knows! My, this is fun.
****Totally untrue, but try to prove it! The Starbucks thing has to be true, though. We'll stand by that one. Bet he gets sprinkles and whipped cream and all kinds of annoying shit.