Thursday, March 17, 2011

One Person's Perspective on Obama's Bracket Picks; More Telling Than You'd Think

Barak-e-tology has swept the nation. With everything that is going on right now, President Obama took a few moments out of his busy schedule to participate in the long lasted tradition of filling out the Division 1 NCAA basketball tournament bracket. Millions of people are expected to fill out their brackets this week and coupled with the astounding statistic that companies will lose billions of dollars due to employees neglecting work in favor of focusing on their picks it is not shocking that President Obama threw his hat in the ring. There are two things I think are worth talking about. First is the amount that people actually care about his picks. Many negative nancies out there (Ryan) frown upon the President indulging in such low-minded activities during times of crisis, however I appreciate a president who has a sense of what is going on in the world aside from politics. I know its cliché, but I blame the forefathers for making me care so much about this. They were the ones who created the individuality of the office and because of it, we have focused on the individual ever since. There are people who watch the link on ESPN solely to hear what he has to say regardless of whether they care about politics or sports. The sports junkies get a rare glimpse of the president in their social atmosphere and the politicos get a chance to criticize the president for not focusing on the issues that matter to them. Who the president eventually picks doesn’t really matter but I think people watch the President and judge him accordingly. They try, like everything he does, to pick apart his weaknesses and strengths, and learn things they wouldn’t otherwise have known about the man who runs our country. And, for the president, it is just another opportunity to put his head on the chopping block and let people tear him apart for trying to be the common person everyone says he isn’t. The people who say the president is too elitist are the same ones who are criticizing him for trying to immerse himself in a celebrated event in American sports culture. The sad thing is that we all know that he hasn’t watched a single game all year and probably had very little say in the eventual picks (minus the final four MAYBE). Like everything else, he was briefed beforehand and given talking points so that he could sound like he genuinely did have time to watch a season’s worth of NCAA basketball. Regardless of which member of Obama’s administration was responsible for coming up with the picks or even if he did them himself, I couldn’t help but notice how much these picks are a reflection of his approach with other policies. Now I do not claim expertise in gambling on the final four or any specific policy issue, but I do know that Obama has been under attack lately for failing to take a stance on the hot issues facing our country. Even today, the debate on the blog has been about whether Obama’s no fly-zone policy is too little too late. For this reason, it should come as no surprise that Obama’s final four is made up of only number 1 seeds. For those of you who don’t know, there has NEVER been a final four of only number 1 seeds. Only rookie bracketers fall for the selection committee’s seemingly arbitrary seeding process. Yet, unsurprisingly, Obama made the safe picks. By doing this, Obama can defer to the fact that his favorites were upset by teams who either played better or had more momentum going into the game than his favorite. Thus, regardless of who wins, he can still hold his belief that his picks were the better teams. This is the stubbornness we are accustomed to. Whether a policy is successful or not, Obama will still feel as if it were the best decision he could have made. For some reason, and maybe this is just because I care way too much about sports, but I would have liked to see Obama pick some upsets or at least a Cinderella team. It would have given me some reassurance about the man who we all felt stood for something.


TJE said...

No problem with him doing brackets. But doing on ESPN is wearing a bit thin, especially at a time of world crises.

PS. The Cuse is in the House.

Ryan Karerat said...

Yeah, I'm with TJE on this... have a bracket by all means, and even release it to the press if you must, but it just seems really questionable and unserious to me that at a time when there's so much upheaval going on both domestically and especially internationally, he decides that the most important address he can make to the nation is regarding his Baracket. I don't doubt that doing so didn't change his ability to actually handle those crises, but it strikes me as taking his aloofness to an unreasonable level. I know he wants to make it seem like he's above the fray, but someone might remind him that a president has a responsibility to be in the fray at least a little.

Not to mention, serious lame sauce on picking the 4 #1 seeds to go to the Final Four. I didn't know we spelled frontrunner B-A-R-A-C-K.

Ian Thresher said...

I take it you guys are not a fan of his recent golf outing either...

TJE said...

Golf is a private recreational activity. Having ESPN cameras in the White House (to pick all favorites) seems forced and, in the current circumstances, inappropriate.

njDylan said...

Let’s be serious, ESPN BEGGED Obama to do this. Whatever he got in return was probably something worth his while. I doubt he, or anyone in his administration, called Jay Bilas first. And TJE, since I am right all the time, Golf takes a long time to play. Playing even 9 holes, and locating every shot, could take a few hours. As far as insensitivity is concerned I think a 5 minute interview should be perceived better than a round of golf.

njDylan said...

Plus, golf is an elitist game. Joe the plumber can play bball.

Patrick_Landers said...

Personally I'd prefer the President to be 24/7 focused on important issues- however, he is human and it's impossible to do that for 8 years. I'm sure everyone of us wastes lots of time doing things for enjoyment and a release that actually enhance our productivity. I'm confident the President is working very hard, so I don't begrudge him filling out a bracket, watching sports on tv, or playing golf. I agree with Eismeier and Ryan though- toss the cameras release. It's fine to do that much publicity during normal times, but when there are international crises with lives at stake- it just seems crass

TJE said...

The politics of golf:

njDylan said...

How about some Politics AND Golf. TJE what do you say about some political banter on a back 9 somewhere?

TJE said...

I have no problem with presidential golf. I like Ike. Some of my greatest ideas were born on the links. I always thought it was sad that W gave up golf. He also gave up tossing a baseball on the White House lawn.

The ESPN bracket appearance just strikes me as bit too contrived. Amidst meltdowns, dictatorial beatdowns, and possible shutdowns,it came across as too cute by half. I'm surprised White House didn't just drop it this year.

non said...

See what you guys don't get is.

He got it.
It's under control.
World crises, handled.
Global beatdowns, no problem
NCAA bracket, nailed it.
This man can do foreign trips
And push buttons
to take down a brutal Dictator
Same time giving the
Crossover behind the back no look passes

Kick back and watch sports fellas

And to Obama " stay gold ponyboy "