President Obama sounded strangely familiar as he wrapped up his State of the Union address. It was that mix of mea culpas and defiance. I had heard this somewhere before. Maybe not verbatim, not word for word, but the flow was similar. And then it dawned on me. My God, Obama sounds just like former and fallen World Wrestling Champ John Cena from Monday Night RAW about a month ago! Obama riffing on Cena's recent "Never give up" tagline isn’t quite the overly conciliatory president’s longed-for transformation into “The Rock Obama,” but Obama and Cena find themselves in similar predicaments. (Yes, the idea that scripted wrestling and high-stakes politics are related is indeed ludicrous but stay with me here.) Cena had just lost the title to the dastardly and hated Sheamus (yes that’s how the spell it). The democrats have just lost Ted Kennedy’s senate seat. Obama has failed to deliver on healthcare and the economy. Both men know they have let their most ardent supporters down. For Cena, whether he regains the title is entirely in the hands of the WWE scriptwriters and management. For Obama, it’s a lot more complicated. Here’s selected text from the two speeches and see the similarities for yourself.
First, here’s the President from the closing moments of the State of the Union speech:
Our administration has had some political setbacks this year, and some of them were deserved. But I wake up every day knowing that they are nothing compared to the setbacks that families all across this country have faced this year. And what keeps me going – what keeps me fighting – is that despite all these setbacks, that spirit of determination and optimism – that fundamental decency that has always been at the core of the American people – lives on.
...We have finished a difficult year. We have come through a difficult decade. But a new year has come. A new decade stretches before us. We don’t quit. I don’t quit. Let’s seize this moment – to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more.
And here's John Cena:
I wanted to apologize to anybody that I might have let down last night. This is... this is kind of hard to understand, but sometimes you can try so hard at something. Sometimes you can be so prepared, and still fail. And every time you fail, it's painful, it causes sadness, and especially as I saw last night, it causes disappointment. I've often said a man's character is not judged after he celebrates a victory, but by what he does when his back is against the wall. So no matter how great the setback, how severe the failure, you never give up. You never give up, you pick yourself up, you brush yourself off, you get up and move on and overcome and that is what I believe! So... there are those who were so offended by my actions last night that they might have lost faith in me. I absolutely respect your decision to do so. But I'm not talking to them... I'm talking to those people who still believe! Tonight, I speak to those who still proudly stand in my corner! You have not given up on me, and I will NOT give up on you!
When he's not being hit by steel chairs or fighting Sasquatches, Bob Calhoun is a San Francisco author and journalist. His bestselling punk-wrestling memoir, Beer, Blood and Cornmeal: Seven Years of Incredibly Strange Wrestling, is available through Amazon.com in hard copy and for the Kindle.