Saturday, March 19, 2011

Race for the White House 2012

March Madness may be underway, but the Republican Presidential nomination battle remains very much in the "Invisible Primary" phase, at least for another week. Of course, there was the airing of the Comedy Central Roast for self-proclaimed potential GOP candidate Donald Trump which was a vulgar and raunchy as those events usually are. The Donald (who is now also seemingly a "birther") may have appreciated the attention, but because of things like that, it is unlikely in my view that he would ever be considered a serious candidate. My prediction is that after the season finale of The Celebrity Apprentice (which I very much enjoy), he will announce he is not running.)

That silliness is in stark contrast to the other news of the week which is quite serious and sobering. Large parts of Japan remain in shambles and the detected problems involving the nuclear plant have serious concerns for that country and for the world. If the situation escalates, the issue of nuclear energy and safety may play a much larger role in our domestic political discourse.

As of today, the United States is now involved in a third war front in the Middle East as Americans are participating in international action to enforce a no fly zone over Libya and force Muammar Gaddafi to cease the violence against his people, and ideally to leave power all together. Speaking for myself, I believe the U.S. has a responsibility to be involved in such an action and hopefully it will pass smoothly and with as little complications as possible. When military action is undertaken however,that is not always possible.

While Barack Obama made this decision to involve American military power, his relative silence over the past week in regards to the situations in Japan and Libya, and in the wake of a continuing weak economy and rising gas prices, have raised concerns with many Americans. By midweek, his job approval numbers in daily tracking polls have fallen as low as they had in months. Many in this country are asking the question; just how interested is Obama in the duties of the Presidency?

If I may editorialize here, I would say that the images and ESPN television segments of Obama taking such a fanatical interest in the NCAA tournament and his brackets reflected pretty badly upon him, as multiple world crises and domestic concerns continued to mount. Of course, a President has the right to diversion or entertainment and I like having a President who might be a sports fan, (though I think Obama has always been putting on a front about his interest in baseball) but just how much is too much? It really seemed to me and many others that the President was far more engaged and passionate about March Madness than he was about Japan or Libya.

We already know the President is an NBA fan (and the Chicago Bulls are certainly worth keeping up with this year), but he went on SportsCenter this week with his own college hoops Presidential bracket, which he painstakingly discussed in detail, as to which team advance in each and every round.

Now, if he wants to watch a bit of the television coverage when he can, or have his own personal bracket, like many Americans, that is fine, but making such a huge spectacle about it on national television and turning it into a "Presidential event" in the Oval Office was sort of tone deaf. I guess I am impressed in a way if the President knows so much about every team in the entire field and all their players strengths and weaknesses (assuming he wasn't just delivering talking points given to him to sprout ESPN), but when does he have time to keep up with all this? If that was not enough, he later on in the week went back on SportsCenter and presented his women's bracket as well!

Does the President really want us to believe or for him to admit, that he has been keeping close tabs on over 120 college basketball teams throughout the year? How does he obtain all this information? Is he getting briefings on women's college basketball after his daily national security briefing?

Mr. President, if you are a basketball fan, that is cool and all, but show some perspective for world events and for what the job of a President is. Whether it is an entirely fair assessment or not, Barack Obama's greatest image problem is always that he has been more interested in the celebrity or ego aspect of being a powerful man rather than the nuts and bolts of leadership. So, he continues to go on vacations, play a massive amount of golf, and spend hours out of his day as Commander in Chief to break down March Madness to the nth degree. The left have blasted past Republican Presidents such as Reagan and Bush for spending what they thought was too much time outside of the White House walls, but no President has ever been more interested in being a celebrity figure, outside of the traditional duties of the Presidency as the current one.

Perhaps a gig with ESPN or CBS sports awaits Mr. Obama for the spring of 2013, when he may have joined the ranks of the unemployed, and he could do a great job at that, but for most of this week, Dick Vitale or Gus Johnson would have made better use of the Presidency.