Monday, October 19, 2009

Hitting the Sperm Lottery

In response to Sunday's print column, I received this nice, sharp e-mail from Richard Westervelt:
I find it interesting that you use the phrase "hitting the sperm lottery" to denote a person that has a position that they would otherwise never have been able to attain.

If ever a person was worthy of that designation it would have been former president George W. Bush who would never have gotten in to Yale were it not for his legacy - would in all likelihood never have graduated and certainly like Bob Irsay been head of a professional sports franchise let alone become the president given his academic record and elocution skills.

I would never demean the service record of Senator McCain but do you really believe he would have received admission to and graduated (next to last I believe) from the Naval Academy were it not for the "sperm lottery" of having a father and grandfather being four-star admirals.

At no time during the George W. Bush term or Senator McCain's candidacy did your column ever question their legitimacy. If Rush Limbaugh is to be admired and others excoriated for how they achieved their position(s) then perhaps our current president should be placed on a pedestal by you. To borrow a phrase "how small, petty, hypocritical and cowardly" to do otherwise.
This is clever but it misses a couple of points.

George W. Bush hit the sperm lottery but he also ran for governor of Texas and President of the United States and won. Jim Irsay didn't have to stand for election. His gig, like his team, was literally handed to him by his father.

John McCain hit the same lottery and proved his worth by fighting bravely for his country, enduring unspeakable pain and incarceration, and then returning to run for office on his own merits. As far as I have read, Jim Irsay has learned to play the guitar, follows rock bands around and produced a smoking-hot daughter.

Barack Obama deserves the respect and admiration of every American for his work-ethic, diligence and meteoric rise to the highest and most powerful office in the world. That office wasn't handed to him, he ran for it on his own merits and won it. But a pedestal? Nah. Not yet. Maybe someday, for some people. But I think he's taking the country in the wrong direction. Count me among the loyal opposition.

All that said, just to be born in America is to be something of a lottery winner. When you look around the world at the billions of people who are born into real hardship and poverty, how can you not think "I'm among the luckiest people in the world."

Jim Irsay may know how lucky he is. But his statements about Limbaugh were those of a silver-plattered snob. And his assertion that people need to "watch" their "thoughts," is not only offensive, it's bizarre.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"George W. Bush hit the sperm lottery but he also ran for governor of Texas and President of the United States and won."

His elections were part of his sperm lottery winnings. In 2000, some people thought they were voting for his dad. Besides, he got the Florida recount stopped by the judges his dad appointed.

October 19, 2009 at 11:32 AM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

The lack of standards in the Florida recount and the mishandling of the case by the Florida Supreme Court required the matter to be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Two members of that court were appointed by George H.W. Bush. One is Clarence Thomas, the other is David Souter. When it comes to their judicial philosophies, it would be hard to find two more distinctly different justices.

Souter voted with the 7-2 majority that said the standards being imposed by the FSC were unconstitutional. But he dissented from the majority and sided with the three liberal justices arguing the case should be sent back to the FSC to establish more a coherent standard for the recount.

Bush Sr.'s appointments to the court cancelled out each other's vote. That makes Anon's claim factually incorrect.

October 19, 2009 at 11:52 AM 
Blogger steve mcdonald said...

in that vein, can we say JFK hit the lottery?

October 19, 2009 at 12:34 PM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

Of course we can, because he did.

Then, unfortunately, he got shot in the head.

October 19, 2009 at 1:19 PM 
Blogger steve mcdonald said...

Gil, have you created the newest pop culture term? Shall we start selling t-shirts?

October 19, 2009 at 3:50 PM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

Nah. It was made up by someone who was obviously a sperm lottery loser. Not winners like us, Steve.

October 19, 2009 at 5:34 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gil, isn't your Dad an award winning journalist?

Didn't YOU hit the sperm lottery in getting a newspaper job?

October 20, 2009 at 1:14 AM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

Yes. I am a sperm lottery winner.

But then my father wasn't able to hand me a newspaper for me to run. I had to apply for jobs and do them, just like he did.

These days a newspaper job isn't exactly a ticket to long-term security. But it's in my blood now.

As I told a Rotary Club audience not too long ago, I hope they keep buying the Daily Times because I'm not much competent to do anything else.

And while I wouldn't much encourage anyone to become a journalist today I wouldn't presume, like Jim Irsay, to vote against them to keep them out of my "club" because I personally didn't like "their thoughts."

October 20, 2009 at 6:04 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can you say JFK hit the lottery and GW Bush didn't? Oh that's right, Bush is Rep while JFK was a Dem. JFK ran and was elected to more different offices than Bush was. What elected position did JFK's father hold? NONE. Bush's daddy did waste 4 years as President. JFK served in the military and was a hero (see your excuse for McCain) where was Bush?

You also missed the point of the email from Mr. Westervelt, which is quite typical of you. What the email was saying was, Bush and McCain were able to accomplish their feats BECAUSE of their fathers getting them into their respective colleges. Would McCain or Bush have been allowed into the Naval Acadamy or Yale, respectively, if it wasn't for their fathers? Of course not. And that's the point of the email. Maybe you need to take a refresher course in reading comprehension.

October 22, 2009 at 3:02 PM 
Blogger Spencerblog said...

"How can you say JFK hit the lottery and GW Bush didn't?"

Anon, blows it again. Here's what I wrote:

"George W. Bush hit the sperm lottery but he also ran for governor of Texas and President of the United States and won."

I don't know how much clearer I could havd been.

And so when Anon writes: "Maybe you need to take a refresher course in reading comprehension," he describes the cure for his own disease.

October 22, 2009 at 7:12 PM 

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