Finally, The Rock has come back to Capitol Hill.
Things have really gone downhill if the 10-time WWE world champion, former winner of the Royal Rumble and star of The Fast and Furious saga Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the least violent man on the Hill this week. Indeed, if we are to believe Rep Tim Burchett (R-TN), the person who did deliver the sharpest elbow this week was former speaker Kevin McCarthy.
But senators somehow found time amid their scramble to vote to keep the government open to meet with the People’s Champion (hereby referred to as Mr Rock to differentiate from House Speaker Mike Johnson) to talk about military recruitment.
(Much to her chagrin, Sen Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who has a well-publicised crush on Mr Rock, told me that she didn’t get to meet Mr Rock when I asked her).
Inevitably, this only added to the speculation that Mr Rock would run for president. Earlier this month, the Brahma Bull told Trevor Noah that consultants from both parties have approached him about a White House run. During the photo op he had with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, I asked Mr Rock whether he would run for president, though he did not respond to any questions (including whether he would appear at Wrestlemania 40 next year).
On the surface, it may seem silly to think about the idea that Mr Rock, a Hollywood actor with no political experience whose political views are entirely unclear, could ever become president. The fact that both parties approached him shows his political ideology remains murky.
But to borrow a line from The Great One himself, if you do, it doesn’t matter what you think. Remember, the most recent Republican president, Donald Trump, is a member of the WWE Hall of Fame and, like Mr Rock, has been on the receiving end of a stunner from Stone Cold Steve Austin.
These days, Mr Trump is still one of the most beloved former presidents in the Republican Party, usurping that role from Ronald Reagan, himself a former Hollywood actor.
The rise of both Mr Trump and Mr Reagan also shows why not having a clear ideology is not necessarily a mark against a candidate. Both men spent substantial parts of their adult lives as Democrats – indeed, both men are the only presidents who were members of a union – and have since become the standard bearers of conservatism.
In the same way, for much of his young life, Mr Rock was a registered Republican. By 2020, however, he emerged as a vocal critic of Mr Trump and endorsed Joe Biden. Given his criticism of the GOP, Mr Rock likely would run as a Democrat and it is entirely possible to see him adopt mainstream Democratic policy positions, staff his campaign with party hands and in turn become the foremost voice in the party.
Some people might argue that doing so would leapfrog other more experienced politicians, namely Vice President Kamala Harris. But again, Mr Trump leapfrogged the son of a former president and far more seasoned politicians, including governors and senators.
Indeed, much like Mr Trump, Mr Rock near-universal name recognition not just as a pro-wrestler, but also as a renowned movie star, could propel him to the top of the polls.
If one needs further evidence that fame and name recognition can be parlayed into public office, one need look no further than Mr Rock’s former defensive coordinator when he played for the University of Miami, Tommy Tuberville. He is now the senior senator from Alabama, who beat out a former senator and attorney general in the Republican primary largely due to his time as the head coach of Auburn University.
Of course, Mr Tuberville is one of the biggest arguments against celebrity politicians. Ironically, despite Mr Rock coming to the Hill to focus on recruitment for the armed forces, his former coach has been one of the biggest impediments to military recruitment ever since he put a blanket hold on military promotions in protest of the Pentagon’s policy that reimburses servicemembers who travel to a state where abortion is more accessible to obtain one.
All of this evidence points to the fact that come some future 20 January, the National Mall could see millions and millions of The Rock’s voters descend to smell what the president is cooking.