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Day tripping at the White House would be cool if JFK, Nixon or Obama were still there

The White House holds no rapture for me.

I’ve seen it from the street—during a drive-by while working as a travelling hockey writer in a distant lifetime—but I never felt the urge to ring the doorbell and ask for a peek inside.

Just as well, I suppose, because it was near the dinner hour that early-November day in 1979 and I’m thinking that the residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW at the time—the gentleman peanut farmer from Plains, Ga., Jimmy Carter, his bride Rosalynn and little Amy—might have been breaking bread and likely were not inclined to entertain a wandering sports scribe from Canada.

So I merely requested that the cab driver ease his right foot from the gas pedal so I might take a lingering look at the shack sitting on 18 acres of presidential sprawl. Scant seconds later, the White House was in the rear-view mirror and we were soon passing the golden arches of a McDonald’s restaurant.

How convenient for little Amy,” I recall thinking. “Ronald McDonald and a Happy Meal are only a block away.”

I reflect on my fleeting, non-eventful encounter with the hub of the free world today because the Pittsburgh Penguins have RSVP’d their intention to drop in on the Trumps sometime during the 2017-18 National Hockey League season. No doubt they’ll have the Stanley Cup in tow and we can only hope that the Resident-in-Chief, Donald J. Trump, won’t mistake it for a spittoon.

JFK

The Golden State Warriors, meanwhile, were in ponder of their invitation to touch elbows with Donald J. when the United States president, piqued by the hesitancy of star player Steph Curry, went all Soup Nazi and declared his temporary home in Washington, D.C., off limits to the National Basketball Association champions.

I never promised you a Rose Garden!” he snapped.

Well, okay, the Apprentice President didn’t actually say that. More likely the Commander-in-Tweet called Curry a disrespectful SOB, then sat down to watch a NASCAR race or type out a list of mis-truths for his Paid Pinocchio, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, to deliver to news snoops at her next press briefing. (“When President Trump said that some Nazis and white supremacists are ‘fine people’ and that National Football League players are ‘sons of bitches,’ that’s not what he meant. He meant something else entirely and you’re missing the president’s message completely if you think he meant something other than what you think he meant to say.”)

So I’m thinking: If granted the opportunity, would I want to attend the White House to meet this president? About as much as I want a Happy Meal.

There have been 13 U.S. presidents in my lifetime—in chronological order, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Papa George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. I have recollections of all but Truman, whose term in the White House expired when I was barely knee high to Jackie Kennedy.

Of the 13, I thought it’d be cool to meet three—JFK, Nixon and Obama.

Richard Nixon

I was raised Roman Catholic and the ruler-wielding nuns at St. Clements and St. Alphonsus schools assured us that JFK winning the White House in 1960 was a big deal. The reason it was important to have a Catholic in the Oval Office escaped me at the time, but my little mind determined it prudent to resist any urge to challenge the nuns on that issue and, thus, spare my knuckles a stinging rap. But I wanted to meet JFK. Maybe ask him about Khrushchev and air raid drills during the 1960s Cold War. You know, just one Catholic to another. I wept when JFK was gunned down. Still do whenever I see the film.

Nixon was a nasty bit of business and a man for whom I harbored no admiration, but he appealed to a morbid curiosity. I always wondered what made him tick. Picking his brain would have been a trip. I mostly wanted to ask him what the hell he was thinking during the My Lai massacre coverup. Shouldn’t the soldiers responsible for killing more than 500 unarmed, innocent Vietnamese civilians (most of them women, children and old men) be held accountable? He deserved impeachment for that, never mind Watergate, and I wanted answers.

I was sitting at the bar at Paparazzi Nightclub in Victoria the night Barack Obama was elected president. Our American neighbors had put a black man in the White House and pure joy in the form of tears fell from my eyes. I never thought I’d see that day. I’ve always wanted to shake his hand. I really don’t know what I’d say to President Obama, but it would be about peace and acceptance.

For me, any of those three would be worth a trip to the White House. The other 10, not so much.

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Ol’ Maggie Court’s crazy ramblings a reminder that the LGBT collective still has plenty of work to do

Margaret Court says tennis “is full of lesbians.” As if that’s a bad thing.

patti dawn swansson

Moreover, ol’ Maggie informs us that there were a couple of devil lesbians on the professional tennis circuit back in her day and, get this, they would take young players to parties. Imagine that. Young women partying. With lesbians. The horrors.

Ol’ Maggie has been saying a whole lot of oddball things lately and, if we are to believe the preacher lady from the Land of Oz, civilization is caught in the grip of a global plot orchestrated by the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender collective. Those pesky gays are stealing the minds of our children, don’t you know?

“That’s what Hitler did, that’s what communism did—got the mind of children,” she advises us. “And it’s a whole plot in our nation and in the nations of the world to get the minds of the children.”

Hmmm. Kind of reminds me of what the Roman Catholic Church tried to do to me when I was a sprig.

The nuns, when not whacking us on the knuckles with a yardstick, would regale us with far-out tales of fantasy gardens, poisonous fruit, hell fires, voodoo antics like turning the rib of a man into a woman and, best of all, talking snakes in a magical tree. Their stories were better than anything we watched on The Wonderful World of Disney. But apparently Margaret Court believes all the Bible-based, brainwashing blarney that my receptive mind was force-fed, and it’s quite clear that the great Australian tennis champion is convinced that gay and (especially) transgender people are the spawn of Satan.

“That’s all the devil,” she says of transgender kids.

Ol’ Maggie Court

Poor, ol’ Maggie. There’s just no escaping conniving gay men and (especially) lesbians. We’re always shoving ourselves in her face, so to speak. Why, it’s gotten so bad that she can’t even travel hither and yon on Qantas anymore because the airline’s CEO, Alan Joyce, is a gay man who, not surprisingly, promotes same-sex marriage, which is, in the world according to Maggie, “alternative, unhealthy, unnatural.” The right to wed is “not theirs to take.”

“I believe marriage as a union between a man and a woman as stated in the Bible,” she harrumphs.

Well, it’s about your Bible, Maggie: One person’s truth is another’s fiction.

The prune-faced preacher lady has been battered fore and aft for her Bible-thumping bleatings, which included a disapproving and extremely tacky tsk-tsking of Aussie tennis pro Casey Dellacqua and her partner Amanda Judd following the birth of the lesbian couple’s second child, a joyous event that Court greeted with “sadness” because the newborn has two mamas and zero papas.

I’d rather not join the Maggie-bashing chorus, though, because I think she’s unwittingly done the gay community a small favor.

The hell, you say. How can that be so?

Well, to be clear, I find her drawing a parallel between the LGBT collective and a mass murderer, Adolph Hitler, repugnant. It is not only offensive in the extreme, it shows she clearly has lost both the plot and the argument. She appears to be totally off her nut. But…I also think ol’ Maggie has provided us with a reminder, albeit appalling—at the top of Pride Month, no less—that we still have work to do. The fight for acceptance and equality continues. It has not been won. We must keep society’s feet to the fire.

I suppose we really shouldn’t care what comes out of this nutter’s mouth, but Court is a legendary sportswoman. No one has matched her two dozen tennis Grand Slam singles titles. One of the playing venues at the Australian Open in Melbourne is named in her honor (for now). And she is a pastor (the argument could be made that she’s more of a cult leader given that she created her own church, the Victory Life Centre in Perth). Thus, her voice carries some degree of heft. If not, the pushback from gay, transgender and, indeed, straight people against her homo/transphobic tripe wouldn’t be so robust.

I’ll just say this about that: Freedom of speech is a beautiful thing, but so is the freedom to shut the hell up. Ol’ Maggie might want to give that a try.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m stepping out to party with some lesbian tennis players.