Tue December 28, 2010
The Two-Way

Obama's Praise For Vick's Second Chance: Good Call?

President Obama has told Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie that he's glad the team gave quarterback Michael Vick a "second chance" after his release from jail, where the player served 19 months for his role in, as The Washington Post says, "a horrific dogfighting ring."

Sports Illustrated's Peter King broke the news of Obama's call to Lurie. King wrote that:

"The president wanted to talk about two things, but the first was Michael,'' Lurie told me. "He said, 'So many people who serve time never get a fair second chance. He was ... passionate about it. He said it's never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail. And he was happy that we did something on such a national stage that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall.''

White House spokesman Bill Burton told reporters yesterday that while Obama continues to condemn the crimes Vick committed, "he does think that individuals who have paid for their crimes should have an opportunity to contribute to society again."

The Post goes on to say that the president's message to Lurie about Vick is just the latest sign that Obama "doesn't seem to shy away from the divisive social and cultural topics that Americans are debating in their living rooms, gyms and workplaces."

But though the Post says Obama often talks about such issues, it is unusual to hear about a president going out of his way to comment on something like this. So, we wonder ...

Update at 3:32 p.m. ET. Emily Schneider, a spokeswoman at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, sends us this statement:

"The ASPCA would like to remind the public that Michael Vick pled guilty to helping torture and kill dogs because they didn't perform well in his dogfighting ring. While we do believe in second chances, we also support the conditions of Michael Vick's probation, which prohibit him from owning, buying or selling dogs for three years from the date of his July 2009 release from federal prison. Mr. Vick's performance on the gridiron may continue to attract attention and accolades, but we believe the final measure of his newly found compassion toward animals can only be borne out over time."

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