KIRKLAND — Are you still fans of Matt Hasselbeck and Mack Strong after they visited President Bush last week in Bellevue? Or have their political leanings turned you against them?
The Seahawks quarterback and fullback gave the 43rd president a No. 43 jersey with his name on it at a $1,000-a-plate fundraiser for Rep. Dave Reichert at the Hyatt.
At the time, Hasselbeck called it a thrill and said it was a win-win, this opportunity to meet the president and get out of a team meeting.
But as soon as he saw the picture of the two players with Bush, Gary Wright, the team’s vice president of administration, said he was concerned about negative reaction.
Maybe in really red Republican states, it would not have been a big deal. But Washington is a blue state, and deep, deep Democratic blue in King County. So objections were raised, and Hasselbeck heard them and read them. He got nasty voice mails, e-mails and text messages.
“I had no idea,” Hasselbeck said.
One guy told him: “I hate you, I’ll never wear your jersey, I’ll never like the Seahawks again.”
“Huh?” Hasselbeck thought. “Seriously?”
“Politics can be very mean and dirty,” he said. “The things politicians say about each other, and what activists say, I had a brief glimpse of that for a couple of days.
“If I ever had any questions about whether I wanted to run for office, I now know the answer — I don’t.”
As a quarterback, he’s used to getting booed. “But this was a whole new level,” he said. “I was very surprised how mean (they were).”
Welcome to the world of partisan politics, Matt.
Here were some of the responses posted on the seattlepi.com blog:
“How dare Hasselbeck declare Bush an honorary Seahawk,” wrote one. “Who is Matt speaking for? Bush is no Seahawk. He is the worst president of my lifetime, and I’m almost 60. Shame on you, Matt.”
“To learn that two of the most popular Seahawks are strong (Bush) supporters ruins the season for me and my family,” wrote another.
And Timothy P. wrote: “Just goes to show you that being a great athlete doesn’t make you smart.”
Among the right-wing rebuttals: “Amen! It’s about time that someone broke through the liberal haze in this state. I don’t know about anyone else, but the Seahawks gained another fan and ticket buyer.”
And this: “He’s the president of the United States. You liberals are the nastiest, most hateful people I know. I’m ashamed of Seattle.”
At my house, the Go 2 Wife was stunned, and it sounds like coach Mike Holmgren got the same reaction from his wife, too.
“I can’t really tell you what she said,” Holmgren said.
Kathy Holmgren did tell her husband: “I’m glad they didn’t ask you.” If they had, he would not have gone, no doubt because of the wrath he would have faced at home.
“She’s a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat,” Holmgren said.
Intolerance? Check. Bush-hatred? Check. Yep, that sounds like a “dyed-in-the-wool Democrat” to me.
Where have the freaking adults in this country gone?
Not Seattle, that’s for sure.
Now, Hasselback and Strong (pictured here with the President) are both having second opinions on whether or not to openly show their support for Bush:
Hasselbeck voted twice for Bush but said he’s not necessarily a staunch Republican, and Strong admitted to “definitely leaning on the side of conservative views on a lot of things.”
Asked how he felt about the Bush presidency, Hasselbeck said: “I caused such a ruckus holding up a jersey. I’m not educated enough to have a public statement about that. People want to hear educated opinions.”
Added Strong: “He’s had a rough presidency. He’s had to make a lot of hard decisions. You’re not going to please everybody.”
Once again I think of left-coast conservatives who have to deal with crap like this on a daily basis, and sympathize. It also makes me wonder why the east coast hasn’t seen an influx of west-coasters who’ve had enough. But then again I think of some of the beautiful scenery on the left coast, and realize that these brave conservatives are braving it out, trying to save their cities and states from far left liberalism (although in the case of San Francisco, I think that city is just too far gone to turn back …).
How about a shout out and show of love for our left coast righties, who perhaps have a deeper understanding of the term “uphill battle” than anyone else in the country?