President Obama’s unpopularity in the polls seems to be seeping beyond his politics and affecting his social calendar.
When Obama welcomed the NHL’s Boston Bruins to the White House Monday, goalie Tim Thomas, one of the hockey team’s star players, snubbed the presidential invite, staying home in protest of the state of Washington politics.
“I believe the federal government has grown out of control, threatening the rights, liberties, and property of the people,” Thomas said in a statement, adding that his decision not to attend the ceremony “was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country.”
Thomas’ snub is not the first cold shoulder Obama has gotten from a sports star.
In September, when Obama invited 12 NASCAR drivers to the White House, two declined the invite. Although Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart cited scheduling conflicts, their high-profile hooky did not go unnoticed or un-criticized by their fellow drivers.
“Regardless of political views, when (president of the United States) sends an invite and wants to honor you at the White House, you accept,” driver Jimmie Johnson tweeted, adding a hash tag with the word “respect.”
Later that month former Chicago Bears lineman Dan Hampton also chose not to attend an Oval Office celebration of the Bears’ 1985 Super Bowl win, saying he’s “not a fan of the guy in the White House.” Obama honored the team’s 25-year-old win last September because the Bears’ initial visit with Ronald Reagan in 1986 was canceled after of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.
Former President George H.W. Bush was also on the receiving end of a superstar snub. Basketball legend Michael Jordon was a no-show in 1991 when Bush invited the NBA Champion Chicago Bulls to celebrate their win at the White House.
It’s not just sports stars who have a habit of turning down invites from the commander-in-chief. Politicians have a long track record of opting out of major presidential events, such as the State of the Union address.
Colorado Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn has already announced he will not attend Obama’s third State of the Union speech tonight because he “does not support the policies of Barack Obama.”
At last year’s State of the Union, three front-row seats where empty after Supreme Court justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas refused to attend.
Their absence was likely inspired by an uncomfortable exchange during Obama’s 2010 address, when the president chided the court’s Citizens United decision, which allowed corporations to have a greater impact in election financing. During the speech Justice Alito was seen mouthing the words “not true.”