Mitt Romney Calls Jack Nicklaus the “Greatest Athlete” of the 20th Century. Is Mitt Romney Absolutely Crazy?

The political season is so in swing at this point of the year – every four years – that it tends to trump everything else, or at least insert itself rather impolitely. Call it a Venn Diagram, where even a debate that is now 12 years old can be re-hashed for the purpose of sustaining Mitt Romney’s legacy as a spoiled white guy fit for Peppederdine University.

On Wednesday (or, that’s when GQ wrote about it), Mitt Romney propped up one of his supporters, the legendary Jack Nicklaus, with a title so shocking and exaggerated, it might have driven Nicklaus to the grave in the same way Happy Gilmore unintentionally killed Chubbs.

“The Greatest Athlete of the 20th Century”.

Certainly, Jack is one of them. But, one of them is not a singular thing. In fact, one of them might not even apply here, because there is a tier. There are a few who can be considered the best at their sports, and then there are a bunch who are great, terrific, and wildly skilled, but can probably be slotted anywhere from 8-100 and nobody will make much of a fuss.

Nicklaus is in the latter.

Forget the fact that golf – at Nicklaus’s time – was overweight guys swinging sticks of tin on the lots behind Yale. Not even overweight, but un-fit. Forget the fact that golf is but a glint in the eye of the sweat rolling off the forehead of a basketball player, a football player, a hockey player, a soccer player, or even a baseball player. Forget the fact that golf is, in many ways, un-athletic.

After all, if we were evaluating sports by their athleticism, then some rugby player nobody ever heard of would take the title unanimously.

But, really, you have your elite:

Michael Jordan. Muhammad Ali. Babe Ruth. Wayne Gretzky. Jim Brown. Pele.

Those are the generally-agreed-upon top athletes in the world’s six premier sports, forgetting bowling, cricket, tennis, and rugby.

Then, you have any number of guys who are in the next tier. They generally include athletes who some consider to be the best in their sport – ever – but are not unanimous.

Sugar Ray Robinson. Bill Russell. Wilt Chamberlain. Mickey Mantle. Willie Mays. Hank Aaron. Roberto Clemente. Mario Lemieux. Bobby Orr. Barry Sanders. Walter Payton. Joe Montana. Jerry Rice. Maradona. Martina Navratilova. Pete Sampras. (Tiger Woods?)

Take your pick. There are a probably a few missing, but it doesn’t matter, because the point is this: Jack Nicklaus is not definitively above anybody on that list. Maybe, he’s at the top of that second tier in Mitt Romney’s mind, and that’s fine. But, above each of them and then the first tier? Nuh uh.

Sure, Jack Nicklaus is perfect for Mitt Romney. He’s his kind of guy. He’s white, of course. He’s a business owner (well, a golf course designer). He wears khakis. He has serious hair. He wears polos and a blue sports coat.

Jack Nicklaus is just like Mitt Romney. He’s not very cool, but he’s the coolest of the Skull and Bones society. They are that group of guys who actually cheer against Otter and John Belushi when they watch Animal House. They watch the scene where Tara Reid’s boyfriend prematurely ejaculates in Van Wilder and their first reaction is to say, “That’s a serious condition.”

Unfortunately, it’s now Romney’s taste that’s hanging from the flag pole… by its underwear.