The sports blog Ball Don’t Lie caught my attention today when it veered into Alabama politics. Nick Friedell, in an adoring interview with Charles Barkley, raised the subject of the retired basketball star’s intention to run for governor in 2014.
BDL: Why is it that some people still don’t think you’re serious about becoming governor?
Barkley: Well, you know, it’s interesting.
BDL: Do you feel like that? Do you feel like some people are just brushing you aside right now?
Barkley: I think when I keep talking about it; they’ll take it more seriously. My big question is, to be honest with you, is very simple: Can I make a difference? If I’m gonna go [to Alabama] and they’re gonna worry about … I’m a drinker, I’m gonna gamble again at some point. If I’m gonna go there and they’re gonna worry all the time about that instead of [more important issues] … see, I think politicians, they only have three jobs. Make sure we got a great public school system, make sure we have economic opportunity and make sure we’re safe. That’s all I want from any politician. If they give me those three things, then the person’s responsibility has got to take over. But I do, I think they have that obligation.
BDL: You think the rest is just hot air with a lot of these politicians?
Barkley: Yes. Like, they want you [to discuss issues like] are we going to stop these gays from getting married? We gotta worry about abortion. I’m like, “Who gives a [crap]?” That’s the only three jobs I think they have.
BDL: Do you already have a campaign slogan picked out?
Barkley: That’s what I’m talking about, I don’t give a [crap] about [most of the issues besides the ones discussed]. If gay people want to get married, God bless them. I’m pro-choice; I’m not going to talk about that. We’re going to have great schools. We’re gonna make sure everybody have economic opportunity, and we’re going to make sure, you’re safe in the neighborhood. Now, if you get your education, you’ve got a chance to get a good job. I can’t do any more for you than that, what more do you want? Politicians want you walking over [stuff] that’s not important and insignificant so they can divide and conquer. Like, if a politician looked me in the face and said, I’m going to give you these three things, hey, that should be heaven.
BDL: You said one time that, “You can talk without saying a thing, and I don’t want to be that person.” Why not?
Barkley: Well because sometimes when you see politicians or athletes, they say something and you’re like, “You didn’t say anything, you didn’t even answer the question.”
Barkley’s fame, philanthropy, and reputation for saying “what everyone is thinking” should all work in his favor. But his assumption that he can be seen drinking and gambling and still be politically successful is far from realistic, especially in Alabama. Barkley will also have to stop relying on the “S-word,” the one that got converted to [stuff] or [crap] in this interview transcript.
The interview would read better if the star-struck interviewer had bothered to edit it for length and redundancy.
I found it interesting that Barkley takes his role as a media celebrity seriously, but doesn’t like having a reputation for saying whatever he wants. In fact, he doesn’t understand why people portray him that way. (I don’t watch TNT, and I don’t care what he said about LeBron James, so maybe someone else will comment with more authority than I can.)