Joe Speaketh

It’s college football day and while reading the great Joe Posnanski, I stumbled across this quote regarding the incident in 1978 when Woody Hayes ended his Ohio State coaching career by punching a player on the opposing team:

And this is when I learned a valuable lesson about sports — and politics and life. People will believe what they want to believe. People will see what they want to see. There was absolutely no doubt — no one was even denying — that Woody hit the player. But when I went back to seventh grade, the talk was not so much about that. The talk mostly was that Woody Hayes got fired unfairly. He’s an old man. He had done so much for his players. He had done so much for college football. He deserved to go out on his own terms. The kid didn’t even feel the punch. The kid was showing off. The kid was taunting Ohio State players. He’s an old man. He deserved to retire honorably. Did you see that kid act cocky after his interception? He deserved a punch. Anyway he didn’t feel it. And do you know how many kids Woody Hayes raised right? And he’s an old man.

I’ve been encountering this phenomenon this week. I’ve gotten multiple phone calls, e-mails and instant messages from conservative friends and family who are certain — not wondering, certain — that Barack Obama called Sarah Palin a pig. He’s a good speaker, they tell me, who picks his words carefully. And this was really a subtle way of calling her a pig. These are the same people, incidentally, who tell me Barack Obama is an idiotic mushmouth who can’t string two coherent words together when he’s not on a teleprompter — they apparently having missed his interview with O’Reilly.

In the meantime, I’ve asked them about McCain’s reprehensible slur that Obama wanted to teach sex-ed to kindergartners. Silence. And then something about how Obama is going to raise taxes or sell us out to Iran or grind up our children to stop global warming. Apparently, Obama deserved to have his record lied about and be called, essentially, a child molester.

I don’t mean to pick on conservatives. Liberals do the exact same thing. The people who were telling me that Jeremiah Wright was a non-issue are telling me that Palin’s Pentacostal church disqualifies her from being Vice-President.

It would be depressing except that a significant slab of Americans, demonstrably, are distant enough from politics to have their opinions changed.