Many years ago, the conservative political columnist and television panelist George Will elicited much derision with his frequent commentaries on Major League Baseball and the publication of a book on the game itself.
I recall the David Letterman show often made fun of the tweedy, bow-tied Will, once suggesting that he “pretended” to like baseball in order to compensate for his rather wimpy, effete image.
Will reportedly is a passionate baseball fan (he is fond of the Chicago Cubs, as I recall); but his elitist attitudes (as well as his, ahem, less than macho demeanor) raised a lot of doubts about the sincerity of his love of the grand old pastime and questions about why he so often “advertised” the fact that he was such a sports fan.
Now, two decades later, I get the same unpleasant feeling when I watch Barack Obama talk sports.
Obama is apparently a devoted fan of the Chicago Bulls, White Sox and the Bears (not sure if he likes the Blackhawks or not) and sometimes refers to his love for these teams in forums that are completely unrelated to sports. Obama also likes to play hoops, often with his colleagues in Washington.
Forgive me, but I think Obama’s “sports fixation” is as absurd and ridiculous as George Will’s may have been.
Barack Obama has lived a privileged life ever since he attended the hallowed halls of Harvard University. Now as president of the U.S., he is guaranteed a life of luxury, prestige and affluence until he dies.
However, in order to appeal to the “common man” (and perhaps win as many Democratic votes as possible), he pretends to like sports to show how “down to earth” and “accessible” he is.
I am not buying it.
Obama is an elitist who has not lived in the real world for at least 20 years and has never really worked at a real job in his life. Despite his modest background, he is just as elitist as the wealthy blue-blood Republicans that his Democratic supporters love to attack.
This is not to say that the privileged elite cannot be sports fans.
Quite the contrary, George H. W. Bush (who is about as blue-blooded as an American could be) was obsessed with sports and even was a star baseball player at Yale University. His son, George W. Bush, is also a sports fanatic, and was once a part-owner of the Texas Rangers baseball club (he can frequently be seen with Nolan Ryan at Ranger home games)
But here is where the Bushes differ from Obama with respect to sports.
With the Bushes, George Sr. accepted that he was part of wealthy elite and did not try to “push” his credentials as a regular sports fan (he likely understood that many Americans resented him for his silver spoon birth). His son George W. (despite his wealth) maintained a down-home Texas country image from the very beginning -- his affinity for sports seemed quite natural and sincere.
The most fanatic sports lover of them all was probably Richard Nixon -- but Nixon wasn’t the least bit of a snob. He came from a poor California Quaker background and never affected the “airs” of the upper class. Indeed, he had rather modest and simple tastes -- but he appealed greatly to the American masses (the “silent majority” he called them) without even trying too hard.
Nixon’s love of sports was heartfelt and genuine. He reportedly dreamed of being a sportswriter rather than going to law and politics.
His love of sports sounds very forced and contrived to me.
As a case in point, Obama recently gave an interview/podcast to Bill Simmons, the popular sports columnist and blogger at ESPN. They largely discussed sports including fellow Harvard alum Jeremy Lin, Michael Jordan, the Chicago Bulls, among other things.
Obama comes across as very stiff and insincere, and I believe this “interview” was an election ploy, given that Simmons has a very wide readership, especially among young people (the same people who voted en masse for Obama in 2008).
I’m not saying Obama shouldn’t like sports and talk about them – but he needs to recognize that his efforts to come across as a “regular guy” are extremely laughable and ill-advised. He would be better off yachting off Cape Cod with the Kennedys.