So, here’s a thing that’s happening that you probably heard about yesterday. Donald Drumpf is coming to Indiana to ask for your vote (not mine, because I live in Illinois) and Bob Knight is all set to endorse him in person. The reaction to this is as varied as you’d expect it to be, what with the way people tend to react to political figures in general, Donald Drumpf in particular, and that SOB Knight or Saint Bobby, depending on your view of the least controversial basketball coach ever.
My reaction to this news is much like Michael Wilbon’s to everything; I’m not surprised. And it’s not because they are both arch-conservatives. They aren’t. Knight is an arch conservative and Drumpf is a crazy carnival barker with delusions of grandeur (try to read that phrase without thinking of C3PO or Han Solo. It’s nearly impossible.)
Here are the many reasons this doesn’t surprise me a bit.
Both Knight and Drumpf don’t like their neighbors to the south. Knight thinks pretty much everything to do with UK is disgusting, based on cheating, and has very little to do with what college basketball should be about. The Donald thinks all Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers except for the ones he’s sure are good people. The only difference there is that Knight is right and less generous in his opinion of UK.
They both also have some thoughts about what should be done along the river border dividing the righteous from the damned. Drumpf wants to build a giant wall along the Mexican border and Knight wants the Mayor of Louisville to turn those “Goddamn signs around.”
Loud and abrasive. Aggressive and self-righteous. Those all seem to apply to both men. Agreed? Good.
The Donald very publicly doesn’t like a lot of people for various reasons, many of which are decades old, but if I were to guess, I’d say he still has a problem with Rosie O’Donnell, Mark Cuban, Megyn Kelly, Arianna Huffington, Chris Cillizza, POWs, and if Wrestlemania 23 is to be believe, Vincent Kennedy McMahon. He seems to like Neil Young.
I don’t need to ask Bob Knight. He hates the past and present administration of Indiana University, most of the NCAA, John Calipari, Lou Henson, Puerto Rico, and Communism. He likes Smuckers though.
I don’t know enough about the inner workings of campaign staffing, but from everything I hear Drumpf had been running a pretty bare bones operation filled with people who don’t fully understand the delegate math. But then recently, he hired some people who do, but even that has been weird. It doesn’t seem to matter right now, but his attention to who is on his team has its peaks and valleys.
Go back and look at the times when IU had years of frustration and futility. Those are the years Knight didn’t really care about recruiting. Ok, to be honest, he never really liked recruiting. He’d just ask people if they wanted to play for Indiana and if they didn’t say yes right way he was done. Ask Magic Johnson about this. But sometimes he just let his assistants do it. Think of your least favorite team. That was probably the case for that team.
Speech Writers Can Bite It
Until very recently, Drumpf did not employ a speech writer. And if you’ve seen him speak, this has been obvious.
Both of them speak only from their own brains and no one else’s. I need offer no proof here. You know this is true.
The Misdirection of Entertainment
Both Bob Knight and Donald Drumpf have said and/or done some pretty horrible things, but by and large people either ignore those things or brush them off as incidental. Primarily because both men are entertaining. Yes, Knight is a jackass, but he’s funny. Yes, Drumpf is a bigot who will say anything he’s thinking at a moment’s notice even if it contradicts the thing he just said a minute ago, but look at that hair! And he’s orange for the love of Pete!
You ever see Jackie Brown? You should. It’s great.
In it, Bridget Fonda plays Melanie, a surfer girl who lives with Samuel L. Jackson and mostly just smokes pot. At one point, Robert DeNiro asks Jackson if he trusts Melanie. No, he replies. “You can’t trust Melanie, but you can trust Melanie to be Melanie.”
This is true of both Knight and Drumpf. I don’t know if I’d trust either one of them to do what I need them to do at any given moment, but I can trust each of them to be unapologetically who they are at all times. And that’s something.
In the end, it makes sense for Knight to endorse Drumpf and for some Hoosiers who like Knight to like Trump.
Neither of them are who you think that are, but you don’t really care. You like who you think they are.