Saturday, February 26, 2005

Who is Lynn Swann?

(Image via Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame)

Lynn Swann is considering a run for Pennsylvania Governor. He has a "Draft Swann for Governor" committee. PoliPundit Jayson, Captain Ed, Betsy, Professor Bainbridge, and Todd Zywicki have all blogged about it.

As regular readers of Carpe Bonum (both of us) know, I am not a big fan of electoral neophytes aiming for major office, but maybe Swann has enough star power to pull it off. At least he's not running for President! (Sorry, Condi, I still love you, but...)

We all know Lynn Swann the Pittsburgh Steeler hall of famer. But who is he outside of football? Let's find out.

Mr. Swan is alive. (Hey, first things first!)

At present, Lynn Swann is the chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness. His official bio opens with:
Lynn C. Swann, Chairman, of Sewickley, Pennsylvania - What happens to the youngest of three boys, whose name is Lynn, when his mother enrolls him in dance school as an eight year old child? What will people say?
I like this guy already! The bio highlights Mr. Swann's football and broadcasting careers, community involvement and service with the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America. And it says he collects fine wines. Professor Bainbridge, a kindred spirit! The bio on the campaign page covers similar ground but without the self-deprecation.

He was fully involved in the Bush campaign last year. Examples:
  • The anti-Fox News Channel blog News Hounds reports Swann gave a pro-President Bush interview on Fox News last summer.
  • Mr. Swann was a principal in an organization called African Americans for Bush. (Can't find their web page any more, but there is plenty of residual information on the web discussing Swann's involvement.)
  • Swann did an online chat on behalf of the Bush campaign in early September. The campaign web pages are disappearing quickly but I was able to find a partial transcript in Google's cache. Here are the excerpted questions and responses from Swann:
    Valerie Torkelson from Westfield NJ wrote: What has the response to "African Americans for Bush" been? Do you feel like you are making any progress in the African American community to rally any support for President Bush?

    Lynn Swann answered: The response has been good and solid. I am always somewhat amused by the fact that some people would ask, "Why as an African American I am a Republican." In many cases, my response is, "Why not a Republican." Why is is such a grand assumption that African Americans should be Democrats when historically the Republican Party has been a leader on issues important to African Americans.

    Neil Hutchins from Albuquerque NM wrote: Hello Mr. Swann How long have you known the president? and what was it about him that you knew you could support him.

    Lynn Swann answered: Neil, I met the President when he was Governor of Texas. What I liked about this President and this man was that he acted on what he believed. When he talks about being healthier and more physically active in an effort to save America some of the $250 billion dollars we spend on obesity and its related illnesses and diseases that are preventable, he backs it up by being physically active himself. The President ran a 3-mile race in which he ran sub-seven minute miles at the age of 55.
Mr. Swann and his wife have given $10,300 in political contributions since 1987, mostly to Republicans like John Heinz, Arlen Specter, George W. Bush, and Pete Coors. But in 1996 and 1997 he gave $2000 to John Kerry?!?! I wonder what that was about!

The Draft Swann "Why Lynn" page stakes out a few positions:Not everyone loves Lynn Swann. Last month, corporate scold Center for Science in the Public Interest called for Swann to be fired. His crime? "The former Pittsburgh Steelers football player received payment to appear at a public relations event for a vending-machine trade association."

On racism, Mr. Swann made the following comment in a 1999 Time Magazine online chat:
Heichi asks: Lynn, have you ever received any racial abuse whilst playing?

Lynn Swann: Not while playing. I think that most minorities have experienced some form of racial abuse. And I am certain many young people and some adults have been abused and not even been aware that it was going on. The important thing, I think, is that you have to continue to break down a variety of barriers. Professional, social, economic, and political barriers.
The chat was in honor of Black History Month that year, and Swann wrapped up with this comment:
Lynn Swann: This being Black History Month, I would like to ask people to celebrate the similarities and not focus on the differences between people of color and not of color. Take the time to discover how African-Americans have had a great impact on this country. In science, education, literature, art, and politics.
He makes $20,000 to $30,000 per appearance on the lecture curcuit! No, wait. He makes $30,000 to $50,000!

On the nanny state, Mr. Swann made this comment in an online chat from the White House:
Question from Smokey: What do you think of California's tax on junk food? Do you think that good health can be encouraged with economics or can it not happen unless people have the willpower to stick to a program?

Lynn Swann: I think it's important that people develop their own lifestyle and their own habits. This has to be a personal choice. This is not something that can be legislated. We're trying to encourage people to lead a healthier and physically active lifestyle. We're not trying to mandate it. Certainly people have different schedules and there are certain things they can and cannot do. We encourage them to do what they can do, but we're certainly not in a position to try and dictate, mandate, or tax them on their eating habits.
But in the same chat he made this vicious attack on bloggers:
The computer is a wonderful tool, but it should not be a way of life for everybody where you sit in front of the computer and you do nothing else.
Just kidding -- that was totally out of context. (Eat your heart out, Maureen Dowd!)

And Mr. Swan may pick up votes from some unlikely places. For example the Philadelphia Daily News reports that there is some rancor in Philadelphia's African American Community over the appointment of a traffic court administrative judge.
The State Supreme Court this week named Bernice DeAngelis as administrative judge at Traffic Court, giving her control of patronage and angering black Democrats.
"The last thing we need is a revolt," Campbell [head of the African-American ward leaders] said, "but I've had some trial lawyers talk to me who are looking at raising money for [Lynn] Swann."
Good luck, Mr. Swan. You will definitely make an interesting candidate.

2/26/05 09:40 PST: Welcome Betsy's Page readers. Enjoy the information!
2/26/05 09:40 PST: Turns out, Mr. Swann has a personal web page, last updated March 2003. (Hat tip, Patriot-News Know@Noon)
2/27/05 18:35 PST: Welcome Professor Bainbridge readers. Enjoy!
2/27/05 19:14 PST: Welcome Volokh Conspiracy readers, too. (I missed you guys yesterday. Sorry!)