Parsing Mister Phelps Is a Mission Impossible
Digger Phelps says he wants to be President. Of the United States. Don't laugh. Because if political campaigning is the art of saying nothing—but saying it with absolute confidence—you can start ordering your tickets to the Digger Inaugural Ball right now.
Phelps (left) has always been bombastic, but since President Bush tossed him a political bone in 1992 (Phelps briefly headed the Weed-and-Seed program, which attempted to raise money for inner-city projects), he has been taking himself much too seriously. Recently, while discussing with the Fresno Bee his 11 months working in the White House, Phelps said, "Once I showed up around Bush, I was the closest thing he had to [Republican National Committee chairman] Lee Atwater. When [Atwater] died, there was no one with any street smarts around the President."
With each passing ESPN studio commentary, Phelps seems more and more bereft of basketball smarts and more and more in love with the sound of his own voice. As evidence, take this excerpt from a chat last Thursday between Phelps and ESPN studio anchor Karl Ravech at halftime of a Cincinnati-Tulane telecast. After Ravech referred to a recent spate of upsets of nationally ranked teams, Phelps responded, "I really feel that this is a factor of November 15th, when everything started this year, in the preseason NIT, when that started. And what happens now is, you've got cabin fever, a lot of these teams. And teams aren't afraid to go out and play each other. The teams that have to win are winning. That's why Duquesne plays well tonight against UMass [Duquesne lost 73-71] and why you see St. Louis, they have nothing else going, why not beat Louisville, this is their Super Bowl, because they're having a losing season [St. Louis did upset Louisville 64-62]. I think cabin fever, this is the week we're seeing half these teams losing over the last 10 days. Trust me, they'll all be back when it counts. And not many changes in the polls this week, trust me with that one, too."
Trust Me. Sounds like a great campaign slogan.