Joe Paterno: Mum's the Right Word for President Barack Obama on Penn State Coach
President Barack Obama may be as big a sports fan as we've ever seen in the White House, but that doesn't mean he will (or even should) stick his neck out on the hot-button issues.
That includes Joe Paterno's death.
According to USA Today, President Obama has yet to comment on the passing of the former Penn State coach and appears unlikely to do so anytime soon. It's customary for the president to issue a statement whenever a prominent American figure dies.
Should the president comment on JoePa's passing?
UPDATE: Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 11:45 a.m. by Mike Chiari
President Barack Obama broke his silence regarding the death of legendary Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno on Tuesday, according to the Daily Mail.
Obama spoke with Paterno's wife, Sue, and son, Jay, and expressed his condolences, according to the White House. Obama also said that he and first lady Michelle Obama would "keep the Paterno family in their prayers during this difficult time."
Of course, JoePa's passing is a particularly tricky case to dance around. Paterno's involvement with the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, however peripheral, taints to some extent a legacy that was by and large worth acknowledging, one whose impact extends far beyond the 409 wins the Hall-of-Fame coach compiled on the football field with the Nittany Lions.
From a political standpoint, though, President Obama has little, if anything, to gain from treading through potentially toxic water, especially in an election year. If Obama were to speak out in favor of Paterno, he'd be lambasted for supporting a man who many in America see, rightly or wrongly, as an accomplice to a horrific series of crimes.
On the other hand, if the president were so compelled as to berate Paterno in memorial, he would catch flak from folks in Pennsylvania, a key Democratic stronghold, for ignoring Paterno's good works and from a much wider swath for painting Paterno with such a negative brush so soon after his passing.
Furthermore, with the 2012 presidential election soon to kick into full gear, Obama need not associate himself with a staunch conservative like Paterno, who was a friend to and supporter of former Republican presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush and whose own son, Scott, ran for a seat in the US Congress as a member of the GOP.
All told, as devastating a loss as Paterno's passing was for the sports world, President Obama would have almost nothing to gain—and too much to lose—in eulogizing the Penn State legend.
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