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Campaign 2004: Air Jordan's final destination is the White House

In eighth grade, my history teacher said that the United States inevitably will have a black president, though not during our lifetime. I called him last week to tell him he was wrong. The events of the past several months have shown that the election of a black president is imminent: I firmly believe that Michael Jordan will someday win a landslide presidential election.

Most people dismiss my theory, saying either that Michael couldn't win, or that he would never run.


I can't really understand the first objection. Among this year's Republican candidates were two former cabinet officials and the heir to a publishing fortune, none of whom have held an elective office. Meanwhile, a former WWF wrestler sits in the governor's mansion in St. Paul, Minn. A Jordan campaign would receive tremendous press, and Michael would have no problem raising money from celebrities and ordinary voters searching for an inspirational reform candidate. Jordan has the charisma and good nature that Bill Bradley '65's unsuccessful campaign lacked.

Michael has name recognition and approval ratings above any single politician in America. He speaks to the press with quiet confidence and palpable intensity. Never condescending like Bradley or manic like McCain, Jordan is intelligent and unassuming. It's not difficult to envision his popularity spurring an unprecedented Democratic turnout, nor to imagine moderates and Republicans responding to his message of reform and compassion.

The interesting question is whether or not Michael would ever want to run. Without rehashing his well-documented accomplishments, let's briefly look at his career.

Although Michael's showy moves to the net and his slam dunk artistry made him an instant fan and media favorite, he worked hard to become an amazing outside shooter, a tremendous de-fenseman and a pinpoint passer. After he led Chicago to three straight titles, the repeated success and his own personal tragedy led him to try baseball, and when his hunger for basketball returned, he came back to pick up a few more MVPs, scoring titles and NBA championships.

As an executive and part-owner of Nike and the Washington Wizards, Michael is currently making money and is becoming as good at that as he was on the court. It's hard to see his Wizards achieving overnight success, but there's no reason to think Jordan can't find a way to make them a winning or at least profitable team.

So we know Jordan is feverishly competitive, and he enjoys tackling fresh and exciting projects. We know he is a hard worker and a voracious learner. We also know his biggest current project puts him in Washington, where he will soon learn (if he hasn't learned already) that he is more intelligent and popular than most of the politicians in D.C. He has seen a glimpse of his potential political impact, as candidate Bradley desperately sought Jordan's endorsement to gain support in the South.


The real question is what will Michael do once he gets too good at making money. Retirement? Perhaps, but it's hard to envision Jordan being happy without having a challenge to meet. Becoming president would be a worthy challenge for a highly talented and outrageously popular figure who thrives under the spotlight.

Will Michael be a good president? I think he will, but I don't really know because it's hard to know how good anybody will be as president. He's smarter than George W. Bush, more dynamic than Al Gore and better looking than Bill Clinton. More importantly, he has an instinct for timing and diplomacy with the press that is essential to remaining popular with voters and with Congress. A Jordan administration would also bring strength to American foreign policy: "Jordan" is a name recognized worldwide — infinitely more so than "Clinton" was eight years ago.

Air Jordan in the Oval Office? Count on it, the only suitable ending for a guy who always seems to go out on top. Joe Dague is a politics major from Carlisle, Pa. He can be reached at

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