West Hollywood, California -- Not two months into his Presidency and Barack Obama is showing the first signs of self-doubt. Stepping outside the arena of politics and policy for two television appearances last week, the President sent signals that he no longer believes in the personal narrative that brought him to the White House.
This is, after all, a man who claims to love the game of basketball. He's got game, as they say. But when it comes to putting hope and faith in change into his picks for March Madness, our leader disappoints. And that's not the only danger sign!
Everywhere he goes, Obama surrounds himself with trappings of the presidency. The best part about being on Air Force One, the president told Jay Leno, was that there is a jacket with the presidential seal on it. I don't know about you, but the lie-flat bed, made to order food and the goes-anywhere-I-tell-it seem like much better perks than a jacket with a logo on it.
Barack Obama's obsession with the presidential seal is nothing new. Last June, Obama's presidential campaign rolled out a new logo. It looked so much like an official presidential seal that he was widely criticized for his arrogance and presumption - an allegation which troubled the Obama campaign for months. Three days later, it was gone.
Even when he made his picks in the NCAA basketball tournament on ESPN, the president made sure we knew he was president, again with the presidential seal on his official picks for the NCAA tournament, alongside the words "Presidential Bracket."
Could it be that, after two months on the job, Barack Obama is internalizing his critics when they said that someone with less executive experience than Sarah Palin may not be ready to serve as leader of the free world? This obsession with the presidential seal, and making sure that everyone around him knows that Barack Obama is, indeed, the president, smacks of the opposite of arrogance. It's instead a feeling of inadequacy!
And look at how he's making his picks for the NCAA championship; talk about same-old-same-old. Obama chose the Tarheels of the University of North Carolina to win - like that's never happened. "Here's what I like about Carolina: experience and balance," Obama said.
Experience and balance, you say? That sounds like the campaign narrative of Obama rivals, Hillary Clinton and John McCain, both of whom claimed to be ready to serve on day one. As an avid basketball fan, I'm here to tell you that if Barack Obama were truly confident in his personal narrative and campaign slogans of "Hope" and "Change", then the Tarheels wouldn't have been his pick.
Instead, he should have chosen the twelfth-seeded Arizona Wildcats.
Like the nation, the Wildcats got new leadership in the last year, with the retirement of coaching legend Lute Olson. Like Obama, they didn't win every game, but won the right ones, and just enough to get by - narrowly slipping into the tournament as one of the last at-large teams. And like Obama, the Cinderella story of this year's tournament gives us hope that in this country - like in this tournament - anything can, indeed happen.
If he believed in "hope" and "change" for college basketball, which as we know mirrors life exactly, President Obama would have gone with the Wildcats. But he didn't. And that tells us as much about what he knows about basketball as it tells us about how well he knows himself.
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