Your Black World reports
Several NASCAR drivers have decided to pass on the chance to meet with President Obama, leading some to wonder if they are trying to make a statement. Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart have all cited “scheduling conflicts” regarding why they can’t meet with the president. So far, only Busch has said that the announcement was incorrect and that he does plan to meet with the president. The rest of the drivers haven’t done a thing to refute the story.
“IMO… regardless of political views, when POTUS sends an invite and wants to honor you at the White House, you accept. #respect,” Jimmie Johnson said on Twitter.
Another driver, Jeff Burton, added his own tweet: “The presidency deserves respect and we are all Americans. I will be there!”
One of the dynamics of the discussion is that the NASCAR fan base leans toward those who are more conservative, and also people who are often accused of racism. NASCAR itself has had trouble diversifying it’s drivers and fan base. Each driver issued his own statement to try to clarify why they are choosing not to meet with President Obama:
Kevin Harvick: “This time of year, there’s a lot going on and most everything that we do is scheduled months in advance. I’ve been to the White House before, and it’s an honor just to go the White House and be in the Oval Office. … I understand the honor and things, just with everything we have going right now, there’s just no way possible to reschedule the things we got going next week.” He declined to be more specific, saying that it’s not public business.
Greg Biffle: Committed to a major 3M sponsor event in Minnesota, Biffle tried to adjust his schedule but could not: “I called [3M] and talked to them about the invitation, and this was very important to them. The function is designed around me and they really can’t have it if I can’t go. Unfortunately, the date conflicts with the invitation.” Biffle noted that there is no political component to his decision; he has a photo of himself shaking hands with Obama hanging in his home, and he said he’s “disgusted” by people who suggest that he “rejected” the invitation.
Kurt Busch: “I will be at the White House … Who would turn down the opportunity?” Busch indicated that he had to adjust his 2012 photo shoot to accommodate the visit, and was not certain how his name was included on the initial press release.
Carl Edwards: Declined public comment on the issue, telling Yahoo! Sports through a spokesman that he had personal commitments. However, Edwards’ bona fides with the Obama administration are not in doubt, as he’s a member of the President’s Council on Fitness.
Tony Stewart: “We have an obligation we have to fulfill. I’ve enjoyed every trip I’ve that I’ve been invited … There’s a lot of people who would like the opportunity. If I could have rescheduled, I would be there in a heartbeat.” He didn’t specify the obligation.
“I don’t think it’s fair to the guys who said they could go, or the guys who said they couldn’t go, to make it political,” Burton said on Friday. “If the president of the United states invited NASCAR to the White House to honor NASCAR , that is an honor whether you agree with policy or not … you can have respect for the presidency and still disagree with it. Ten years ago, after 9/11, this country was unified, this country was together. Today, we’re talking why somebody is or isn’t going to the White House. And we wonder why the country’s in trouble. We’re blaming the people in Washington. Maybe we need to look in the damn mirror.”