FD/Respectable Negroes/Communal Exercise/GO:
In the midst of political madness and NBA ground-humming, we turn this week to place you in the hands of the fine folks over at We Are Respectable Negroes. Your host is Gordon Gartrelle, who has planned a most devious exercise. Mr. Gartrelle, please proceed...
Welcome to the All-Time Presidential Candidate one-on-one 21 Tournament, a singular event over 150 years in the making. What makes this tournament so special? All of the participants ran for president either as Democrats or as Republicans (a criteria that has rankled a number of 3rd party candidates). Many of the participants actually made it to the White House, but some never even made it out of their party’s primaries. The games are governed by standard 21 rules: maximum 3 free-throws after a made basket, players go back to 11 if they score more than 21 points, no out of bounds, only blatant fouls, traveling, and double dribbles called.
[CLICK HERE to download a bracket.]
Democratic Bracket Overview
So far, most of the buzz has surrounded the Northeastern Division, where some controversial selections have many fans talking. Selection day was bittersweet for fans of the Kennedy Brothers. John made it in as a #2 seed, but Robert and Teddy weren’t so lucky, despite their strong qualifications. Kennedy fans are especially upset with the decision to invite Shirley Chisholm and Joe Lieberman to the dance, as many believe that the inclusion of these two candidates are based on politics rather than on merit. But again, this division was simply too deep, and we haven’t even mentioned the omissions of Massachusetts candidates John Kerry and Michael Dukkakis. Also watching from home is New York’s Al Sharpton, whose formal appeal for the selection committee to include an African-American Division (comprised of himself, Jesse Jackson, Barack Obama, and Shirley Chisholm), was denied last week. Sharpton is now claiming that the selection committee was trying to send him a message by inviting the other three African- American candidates.
And folks, that’s just one Division. There are a whole bunch of stories in the other Democratic Divisions. Check out the Southern Division, where husband and wife Bill and Hillary Clinton match up in the first round. Something tells me that if Bill pulls this one out, he’ll be sleeping on the couch for quite some time. Then there’s the Southern Cracker Division, pitting segregationist Dixiecrat candidates George Wallace and Strom Thurmond against one another. The Midwestern Division is extremely interesting, with flamboyant candidates Jackson, Bryan, and Obama gunning for the more reserved Truman.
The #1 seeds are strong on the Democratic side: FDR, Truman, Bill Clinton, and LBJ. Any one of them has what it takes to go all the way, but again, there are a lot of candidates looking to knock them off. It should be fun.
Republican Bracket Overview
And on the Republican side, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Reagan are all in as #1 seeds—a formidable group indeed. Many feel that this is Reagan’s tournament to lose, but keep your eye on the lanky, unorthodox upstart Abraham Lincoln. We haven’t seen much of him to this point, but those who know him say that his nickname is “Honest Abe” because he’s The Truth. I look forward to seeing him in action. Nixon, one of the craftiest candidates ever, could play the role of spoiler. And speaking of crafty, Dick Cheney was chosen as a #3 seed out of the Midwestern Division. Cheney was a questionable choice, as he never formally ran for president. The selection committee decided to make an exception for him, however, given his unmistakable influence on the office and his practical experience as effective commander-in-chief. Another surprising choice is Louisiana’s David Duke. He’s never been considered a major player, but his game has been heavily influenced by the scrappy Democrats in the Southern Cracker Division, so his opponents would be wise not to underestimate him.
Another intriguing potential match up down the road is Bush 41 vs. Bush 43. They’re both #2 seeds: Sr. representing the Northeast, and W. representing the South. How fascinating it would be to see this oedipal real-life “He Got Game” scene played out in this Tournament.
The most notable Republican candidates on the outside looking in are New York’s Thomas Dewey and Rudy Giuliani. The latter made several passionate pleas to be included, based on his handling of 9/11, but it was not to be. And finally, the Clintons and the Bushes aren’t the only family ties here. I have to mention the possibility of an all-Roosevelt final. Distant cousins Franklin and Teddy could potentially face each other for the 21 Title, but each must make it through their respective parties’ tough brackets to make this a reality.
Fill out your brackets, people, and we’ll see you tomorrow for Round 1.