Given that we’re in the midst of a Stanley Cup Final that my favorite team is playing in (barely, but still), a really entertaining NBA Finals, and the World Cup’s about to start, I certainly didn’t expect to have my socks knocked off by a political story on a Tuesday night in June.
But hot damn, did you see what happened in Virginia last night? Eric Cantor, the House Majority leader Republican who just a year or two ago was seen as far right as it gets in America, was shockingly beaten in a Virginia primary by a dude even MORE right-wing than Cantor is, David Brat (and if that isn’t a great surname for a sniveling politician, am I right?)
Now, if you’re as terrified as I am to think that there’s someone out there who’s to the right of Cantor, you’ve got to be wondering how this happened.
Couple reasons, I read after some online digging Tuesday night: 1, Democrats crossed over and voted in the open GOP primary, and voted for the guy they knew would be easier to beat in November, 2, some GOP national radio heavyweights like Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham started talking up Brat, and 3, Cantor had the chutzpah to actually threaten to work with President Obama on immigration, an unforgivable sin, apparently.
What does all this mean? Who knows. But if the Tea Party is going to keep causing these kinds of problems for Republicans (that photo above is from some anti-immigration folks crashing Cantor’s election-night headquarters), Dems like me are thrilled. Keep fighting yourself, fellas, keep alienating women and Hispanics and gays, and see what kind of a majority that gets you.
**For a lot of sports fans, they start to feel old in life when some of their hero athletes from when they were young get old.
But for sportswriters and ex-journalists like me, we feel ancient when some of our writing heroes start retiring, too. A few months ago it was the great Gary Smith of Sports Illustrated who called it quits, and now Rick Reilly, formerly of SI but for the last seven years with ESPN, has written what he says is his last column ever.
Reilly’s retiring from sportswriting, but will still write books and do TV work.
It’s really a shame if you are too young to remember Reilly’s legendary career at SI, and only remember him as the guy who’s been basically mailing it in, effort-wise at ESPN, and suffering embarrassing TV gaffes like this one, begging to be mentioned as breaking news on Twitter.
Because in his prime at SI in the 1980s and ’90s, Reilly was awesome. He wrote hilariously, poignantly, brilliantly, about sports heroes and villains, and had a way of getting inside athletes’ heads and souls like few others. He eventually got a back-page column at SI, and it was superb, with my favorite column being this one about a cerebral palsy sufferer at Middlebury (Vt.) College who formed an incredible bond with students.
If you’ve never read him and want to get a sense of what I’m talking about, here are two of my favorite stories of his, lines from which I can still quote by heart: This one is about the football team at The Citadel military academy, written when the school was coming under serious fire for hazing, and this is a profile of the greatest sportswriter of all time, the great Jim Murray, a personal hero of mine.
I hope Reilly keeps writing, because when he’s good, there are few who’ve ever been better.
**Finally today, Jimmy Fallon got another celebrity to do a great segment on his show this week: Check out Fallon and Jennifer Lopez dancing to a silly song called “Tight Pants.”
Love Jimmy’s haircut here, too; hey, the bowl cut could always come back.