Get a New Game, Bubba

Bill Clinton has a presidential sporting image to uphold—and jogging just won't do it
November 16, 1992

The only problem I Have with Joggers is that not enough of them fall into uncovered manholes. Joggers are basically neurotic, bony, smug types who could bore the paint off a DC-10. It is a scientifically proven fact that having to sit through a three-minute conversation between two joggers will cause your I.Q. to drop 13 points.

First Jogger: Honestly, my oxygen debt has been drastically reduced since I started doing carbo-load intervals.

Second Jogger: Oh, absolutely. I ran a p.b. split time the other day on nothing but strained wheat juice.

You: So, when is Wheel of Fortune on?

That is why, if Bill Clinton really wants to be the "president of change," as he claims, he will lake my advice and eighty-six the jogging. Now, I consider myself an FOB (Friend of Bill) in that I was once one of 40,000 people to shake the last two fingers of his left hand at a rally. And I believe he will define the 1990s. But jogging is about as '90s as Skylab helmets. Nobody jogs anymore. Well, that's not quite true. Dorks, geeks and personal-injury lawyers who advertise on TV still jog. Everybody else Stairmasters, Turbo-cycles, or Gravitrons—sometimes all at once.

It is true that plenty of Americans used to jog, but most of them stopped on Oct. 19, 1979, at 5:05 p.m. Apparently they were all jogging in place in the smog at the same intersection, waiting for the light to change—each of them wearing three watches, a headset radio, chartreuse running pants and a ring of that cheesy white secretion that forms around a jogger's lips after about six blocks—and they said to each other, "We look ridiculous," and walked home.

The reason joggers go jogging instead of playing basketball or tennis or going bicycling is that most joggers have about as much coordination and athleticism as a box of Fab. Exactly how intricate a sport is jogging? You were two years old. You ran after the cat. You pretty much had it mastered.

Somebody asked Abe Lemons, when he was the basketball coach at Texas, if he jogged. "Hell, no," he said. "When I die, I want to be sick." True, studies show that if you jog about 20 miles a week, you'll live an average of two years longer than the rest of us. Of course, studies also show that castration adds an average of two years to a man's life, and nobody's waiting in line at the HMO to get that done.

Is jogging in public any way for Clinton to start the new Camelot? Have you ever seen how he dresses to jog? He wears what looks like a pair of Babe Ruth's old swimming trunks and a P.E.-issue plain gray T-shirt. I mean, I still believe in a place called Hope—unless it's where he shops for jogging clothes.

Unfortunately, Clinton needs to exercise at least 30 minutes a day to keep the pounds off, so we've got to have him do something. He needs it for his image, too. After all, George Bush ran something of a Jackson (Bo, not Andrew) Administration during his four years—fishing, horseshoes, golf, tennis, a son with his own baseball team, the mitt in the drawer. Very tough act to follow.

Let's see, where to start? Clinton plays golf, but when he shot a round in Little Rock last Saturday, he wore jogging shoes, and his shirt was hanging out over painter's pants. Golf needs Clinton like it needs a case of ringworm. One friend revealed that Clinton likes to post up in basketball. "Very tough under the boards," the friend said. This could be good. Clinton could show up at the D.C. Y at lunchtime and pound on the locals. Secret Service guys could set some serious picks.

The President-elect also has two aces up his sleeve he probably hasn't even considered:

1) As you may know, Clinton played rugby at Oxford. Word is, he tackled more guys without the ball than with it, but rugby was nonetheless his best sport. And a very manly sport it is. Hoover threw the medicine ball on the South Lawn. Ike hit golf balls there. But that was all girlie-man stuff compared with pick-up rugby. O.K., me, Al and Tipper will take on y'all. Then it's everybody inside for fish and grits! Very Kennedyesque. Besides, everybody orders those rugby shirts from Lands' End; now here's a reason to wear them.

Can't you see it? Clinton makes rugby a No. 1 priority in his administration, and you can bet it will catch on in Washington like a rash. Fine presentation, Finkwater. Would you mind waiting outside a minute while we scrum on this?

2) Nancy Kelly, the sister-in-law of Clinton's stepfather, says that Clinton likes nothing better than watching an Arkansas Razorback football game on TV and letting out a good "Wooo, Pig! Sooooie!" now and again right in the living room. You would be surprised how you burn up the calories doing a good hog holler. "Actually, he and Hillary are both pretty good at it," Kelly says.

Can't you see Barbara Walters sitting down with the First Family for a very serious interview, and the President saying, "Before we get started, Barbara, we would just ask you to let loose a good ol' 'Wooo, Pig! Sooooie!" for us. Kind of a family tradition, you know." Cultural elite that.

I'm telling you, this is instant re-election stuff. You can't help but trust a man in a rugby shirt, with South Lawn dirt on his face, a made-in-the-U.S.A. plastic hog-snout hat on his head and a deeply felt "Wooo, Pig! Sooooie!" waiting to rise up out of his innards.

Please, Mr. President-elect. You ran a great race. You ran it for two years. You've been running it practically your whole life. Enough with the running already.