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By Dave Tombers

The gloves have come off, and pundits have been blasting Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas for his decision not to appear at a photo opportunity with Barack Obama at the White House to honor the team’s Stanley Cup championship.

The Bruins, minus Thomas, were greeted at the White House Jan. 23, while Thomas told his fans via Facebook that he objected to the government’s direction under both Democrat and Republican guidance.

His statement said:

I believe the federal government has grown out of control, threatening the rights, liberties, and property of the people.

This is being done at the executive, legislative, and judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers’ vision for the federal government.

Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a free citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL.

This is the only public statement I will be making on this topic. TT

“What!?” shouted the news media.

When the president of the United States invites you to the White House, “you go” said one ESPN commentator, unleashing a flurry of criticism about Thomas.

“Thomas’ absence was uncalled for,” said Joe Thomas of ESPNBoston.com. “The president has more important things to worry about with Tuesday’s State of the Union address. But it’s going to be interesting to see what this does to the State of the Bruins.”

Meanwhile, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick used his “Ask the Governor” monthly radio address to weigh in on the controversy, declaring that the country is losing “basic courtesy and grace.”

“I didn’t think much of President Bush’s policies – two wars on a credit card, prescription drug benefit we couldn’t afford, deficit out of control – but I always referred to him as Mr. President, and I stood when he came in the room,” the Daily Caller reported Patrick as saying.

What should have been a standard photo opportunity for both Obama and the championship hockey team instead has turned into a national debate, being played out on commentary, editorials, Twitter feeds and Facebook pages.

The Boston Globe called Thomas, “Shabby. Immature. Unprofessional. Self-centered. Bush League.”

One Montreal Gazette writer attacked Thomas for snubbing Obama because “he’s black,” but the newspaper quickly apologized.

The paper removed the reference to race but still accused Thomas of buying the “garbage pumped out by Glenn Beck and his ilk.”

The Boston Herald ran a piece saying that Thomas ignited a “political firestorm” and  “drew a barrage of verbal slapshots from furious Democrats.”

The article quoted Phil Johnston, former Massachusetts Democratic Party chair, saying, “My advice to him [Thomas] is to stick to hockey.”

Massachusetts Democratic Party spokesman Kevin Franck even was quoted by the Herald questioning if Thomas really is a patriot.

“I think anyone who really cares about the lives, liberty and happiness of the American people wouldn’t miss an opportunity to shake the hand of the man who got bin Laden,” Franck said.

But far from the criticism by mainstream pundits came a significant outpouring of support from Americans.

Thomas’ Facebook page is loaded with support from fans regardless of political leanings, and he appears to have gained a number of fans as well.

“I’m not even a hockey fan but I really respect the way u stood up for what u believe in,” says David W. on Facebook.

“Here’s one liberal Bruin’s fan who isn’t outraged,” wrote another fan.

Few, if any, had anything bad to say about Thomas and his decision to skip the White House trip.

Although Thomas’ original statement said he would have no further comment, he added a quote from John Adams to his Facebook page last night:

I do not curse the day when I engaged in public affairs [...]. I cannot repent of any thing I ever did conscientiously and from a sense of duty. I never engaged in public affairs from my own interest, pleasure, envy, jealousy, avarice, or ambition, or even the desire of fame. If any of these had been my motive, my conduct would have been very different. In every considerable transaction of my public life, I have invariably acted according to my best judgment, and I can look up to God for the sincerity of my intentions.

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