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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Debra Saunders' Painfully Stupid Abuse of Obama for Wearing a Bike Helmet

Posted By on Tue, Aug 31, 2010 at 12:01 AM

No helmet. Now there's a real man
  • No helmet. Now there's a real man
I can't say I enjoy Debra Saunders' writing, but I do enjoy the concept of Debra Saunders. In a city where polar opposites like Chris Daly and Gavin Newsom are, officially, members of the same party, perhaps it's worthwhile to know what an actual Republican is thinking now and then without phoning up James Fang.

Sure, Saunders' ideas may often be horrible, and expressed poorly to boot -- but it's worth gleaning that there are people who really feel this way. Right?

And yet, I really can't see much redeeming value in her blog post on SFGate yesterday: two paragraphs ridiculing President Barack Obama for -- gasp! -- wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle, which Saunders seems to feel makes him less of a man.

In the course of just 50-odd words, she manages to be inane, boorish, hypocritical, and alarmingly factually inaccurate.

Imagine a photo of Obama riding a blue bicycle while outfitted in a matching blue helmet -- the Chron subscribes to AP and we do not, so you'll have to see the picture here -- with the following text, which we reprint in toto:

What does the president think is going to happen to him if he doesn't wear a helmet riding this snail's-pace bicycle in the midst of a security entourage in slow-lane Martha's Vineyard?

Americans used to like presidents who looked resilient, masculine, fearless. Think JFK, who dispensed with those old-guy hats. Now we go for overprotected look (sic).

Why not add training wheels?

Good Lord, where to begin?

Here's what happens to Obama if he doesn't wear a helmet -- he's subjected to a cascade of caterwauling moralizers accusing him of not only being a stealth Muslim, but also setting a terrible example for the nation's youth by riding around without wearing a helmet. 

And, to a point, he'd deserve it. There are three reasons to not wear a bicycle helmet:

1. You are vain

2. You are stupid

3. You are vain and stupid

Please, don't start. I will not argue about this. And if you want a solid, conservative argument against riding without a lid, I don't want public dollars unnecessarily paying for the life-support machines keeping your fixie-riding rear from flatlining. 

In fact, Saunders' entire claim that going bareheaded is equatable with vigor and masculinity is based on faulty information. That John F. Kennedy triggered a decline in men's hats as a fashion necessity because he showed up hatless for his inauguration is a much-debunked myth (as is Kennedy's supposed "resilience" and vigor; he was gruesomely unhealthy by the time he died).

In fact, Kennedy showed up for his inauguration wearing the "old-guy hat" to end all old-guy hats: a full-blown top hat that wouldn't look out of place on Monopoly's Uncle Pennybags

And -- how to put this delicately -- if ever there was a president who could have benefited from a helmet of some sort, it was JFK. 

Finally, it warrants mentioning that our last president -- who was certainly resilient and masculine -- was photographed riding bicycles not infrequently. He was nearly always wearing a helmet. Perhaps Saunders feels George W. Bush had a bit more to protect upstairs than most San Franciscans give him credit for. But I guess that makes W. less of a man.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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