|Pres. Obama (left) and one of Michael Vick's victims|
Critics of President Obama have cited a few instances where the president unnecessarily inserted himself into controversies that had little to do with the presidency. They frequently cite the incident with Prof. Gates in Cambridge, Mass and the subsequent "beer summit," or the president's comments regarding the so-called Ground Zero Mosque (which isn't at "ground zero"). Ultimately, though, Obama was right about those incidents. The police did act "stupidly" with regards to Gates, and the rights of Muslims to build community centers or houses of worship should not be infringed because of the bigoted passions of a loud minority. But I won't be defending the president on his insertion into the story of NFL star Michael Vick.
Michael Vick is a talented athlete, and there is no disputing that fact. Since he returned to the NFL after his jail time, he has been on a career high, and is poised to be a league MVP this year for his play with the Philadelphia Eagles. But Vick is a sadist, as anyone who has seen the evidence of his crimes can attest to, and sadists do not change. The definition of sadism is as follows, "Sadism is the derivation of pleasure as a result of inflicting pain or watching pain inflicted on others."
Seeing how much he reveled in the world of illegal dog fighting, and personally took part in the torture and execution of under-performing dogs, I don't see how anyone could argue that Vick is not a sadist. In addition to the fighting itself (which is plenty brutal), Vick also fed small dogs and cats to his most vicious dogs to give them the taste of blood before a fight. The fact that he could, in any way, justify his actions while maintaining a shred of human dignity is beyond comprehension.
Vick was caught by authorities when they were investigating drug trafficking by a relative. The discovery of Vick's torture chamber was not the original intent of the police. Vick did not turn himself in or voluntarily stop doing what he was doing. He did what most criminals do - he tried to cop a plea after getting caught. All of his so-called remorse came after he had already been arrested and had his NFL career damaged. It was, to me, the height of dis-ingenuousness.
Since his torture spree ended, Vick has served his prison sentence, paid fines, and volunteered for the Humane Society. All of that was by court order. You don't get extra credit for doing what you are legally obligated to do.
President Obama apparently phoned the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles recently and offered up his praise for the team's hiring of Vick. He has made it clear that he was not, in any way, defending what Vick did, but he was supportive of the notion of giving an ex-con a "second chance." In many cases, I would be supportive of such a notion, as I think many former prisoners deserve a second chance after paying their debt to society. But not Vick.
Vick lost very little due to his incarceration. He still had plenty of money, and was young enough to start a new career. He did not have to return to the NFL, and many teams were leery about hiring the controversial QB after pictures surfaced like the one at the top of this post. Playing professional football is not a right. But it is a private enterprise, and technically, teams are able to hire whomever they please. I criticized the Eagles when they hired him in 2009, and still think it was the wrong thing to do from a moral perspective.
I think President Obama has made a mistake sticking his neck out for this particular criminal. Just because he is the toast of the NFL (which is notorious for ignoring criminal activity among players like domestic violence), does not make him an appropriate example of giving an ex-con a second chance. There are literally thousands of non-violent drug offenders that could use a second chance, for example. In fact, with Vick being famous, he had a leg up on the average ex-con, and is a poor example anyway.
Mr. President, I am disappointed in this action. Voluntarily associating yourself with that dog killing motherfucker is beneath you, and I don't care how good a season Vick is having this year.