After Gym Jordan’s bid to become Speaker failed I didn’t plan to write about him again so soon. That changed with the brilliant profile in the Sunday WaPo by David Maraniss and Sally Jenkins, Relentless Wrestler.
It’s a critical piece that methodically dismantles Jordan’s story about the Ohio State wrestling sexual assault scandal. Jordan has never been accused of being a participant, but he’s been covering up and lying about his role in the scandal.
Jordan was repeatedly warned about the pervy doctor yet chose to bury his head in the sand. His former wrestlers are disappointed in him: they thought he was their guy. He obviously was not. He’s a delusional coward posing as a tough guy hero. There’s a lot of that going around in the MAGA-fied GOP.
The main reason I’m writing about the Jordan profile is its lead author, David Maraniss. It’s often hard to discern who wrote what in a newspaper collaboration but this profile has the Maraniss stamp of quality on it. His co-author Sally Jenkins is a fine sportswriter, but David Maraniss is DA MAN.
I’ve read four of Maraniss’ books:
When I finished his biography of Jim Thorpe, Path Lit By Lightning, I found myself comparing him to the late great David Halberstam. Halberstam has long been my favorite non-fiction writer. He, too, wrote books about sports as a reflection of society. That’s exactly what David Maraniss has done in his books about Vince Lombardi, Roberto Clemente, and Thorpe. He’s used sports as a mirror on and a metaphor for American culture.
Lombardi and Clemente were good people who did things that transcended the sporting world. Jim Thorpe was a flawed hero whose tragic life story illustrates the peril of being an athlete in the pre-big money era. I dislike the current focus on the business side of sports, but Thorpe’s life serves as a cautionary tale of how NOT to handle one’s fame and, more significantly, money. Thorpe lived a rich life but was born and died in poverty.
Gym Jordan possesses none of the qualities that made Lombardi, Clemente, and Thorpe great. All he cares about is himself: something that could never be said about Lombardi or Clemente. Their passion for excellence in their fields of endeavor led to a passion for social justice. Clemente famously died in a plane crash trying to help victims of a devastating earthquake in Nicaragua.
Right-wingers loved the tough talking Vince Lombardi, but he was never one of them. He was a liberal Democrat who was close to both JFK and RFK. He shared the latter’s passion for helping the poor and disenfranchised. Yes, Lombardi was a square who screamed at his players, but he loved them. The feeling was mutual.
The most underrated of the four Maraniss books I’ve read is 2015’s Once In A Great City: A Detroit Story. Maraniss brilliantly weaves together the cultural and political currents that made Detroit a great city. I was struck by similarities between Detroit and New Orleans: both are cities with great musical cultures that have taken a beating but refuse to stay down. I almost used the R word to describe it but resilient is one of the most overused words in the language. It belongs in a dictionary of journalistic cliches not in this post, but what can ya do?
Like New Orleans, Detroit has been down so long that it’s used as an example of dysfunction by wingnuts. Why? Both are majority Black cities with typical urban problems but both cities have glorious pasts and citizens who love their town. There’s been a lot of defeatism in New Orleans of late, but we’ve been down before and come back. We’ll do it again. The same goes for the Motor City.
Back to the Jordan profile. Maraniss and Jenkins mince no words about Jordan’s role in the Dipshit Insurrection. Jordan has lied about it so often that he has a hard time keeping his story straight. We know that he was involved in coup plot meetings and engaged in many “perfect phone calls” with the Indicted Impeached Insult Comedian. Thanks to Cassidy Hutchinson, we know that he sought a pardon in the waning days of the Trump regime. Innocent people do not seek a pardon.
The Jordan speakership bid was a sick joke perpetrated by people who hate the institution in which they serve. Institutionalism is not fashionable in today’s GOP, but it’s helped to keep the Good Ship Democracy afloat. Jordan is among those trying to sink it. John Boehner was right to call Gym Jordan a legislative terrorist. He’s also a thug, bully, liar, and seditionist insurrectionist. He should be in the dock instead of Congress. I hope his time comes.
Finally, I’d like to thank David Maraniss and Sally Jenkins for writing such a great piece. I believe in knowing my enemies and what makes them tick. I refuse to use polite terms such as adversary or opponent to describe Gym Jordan. He’s an enemy of all that is good in our nation. He lacks the wisdom and compassion of Vince Lombardi or Roberto Clemente. Jordan is the sort of guy who would have kicked Jim Thorpe when he was down.
The last word goes to David Ball: