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How Obama's basketball picks imitate his presidency

In politics, President Obama is playing long ball -- going for a historic reform of the nation's healthcare system that could cement his legacy as the president who finally broke the back of well-financed business interests that used fear to whip up public opposition.

In basketball, Obama is playing it safe. On ESPN's SportsCenter on Wednesday, he filled out his NCAA Tournament brackets (misspelling Syracuse, only to correct the mistake with the concern that daughters Sasha and Malia would tease him about it later.) Anyway, POTUS picked Kansas, Kentucky, Kansas State and Villanova to make the men's Final Four. He also picked the Final Four in women's college basketball, choosing Connecticut, Stanford, Tennessee and Notre Dame.

But the most revealing aspect of Obama's picks was his reasoning. In the second-round matchup between Michigan State and Maryland, the president said, "Maryland's got a great player (guard Greivis Vasquez), but Michigan State's got a great coach (Tom Izzo)."

It is an apt metaphor for a president trying to win a historic legislative achievement. No matter how brilliant the senator or powerful the congressman, no matter how influential the insurance company lobbyists or how angry the tea-party activists, his worldview is that it's the president who rescues victory from defeat.

Equally telling, Obama picked Kansas to win it all. Asked by ESPN's Andy Katz whether he liked Kansas Coach Bill Self's intense love of the game, Obama said, "I could use him. I could send him up to Congress to vote for healthcare."

-- Johanna Neuman

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Comments () | Archives (7)

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I think if Obama's style was mirrored in basketball, he would be hiding the ball under his vest and completely changing the tactics he discussed before the game!

Barack Obama is acting like a mob boss. He's bribing people, giving kick backs, hiding his bill from the public in back room deals, and pulling every trick in the book to force his obamacare on the american people. This president is dividing this country with his corrupt ideas. Yes, he reads speeches well, but his own true thoughts are unyielding and dangerous for america. Obama is a president that is anti-american, with a con smile and he knows how to talk softly and win people's trust.

Obama wasn't talking about Kansas coach Bill Self, he was talking about Kansas State coach Frank Martin! You don't even watch basketball, do you?

Yes, Obama misspelled a word. This happens when his speech writer doesn't write it for him. Obama's focus is out of order. He should be studying a map on how to create jobs for people. How in the ---- can a basketball win or his healthcare bill if passed, put food on my plate, or pay my home mortgage? I need a job to pay my bills and put a roof over my head, so I don't end up living on the streets. Obama, start doing your job. Drop your unwanted health bill, lower healthcare cost for all and create jobs for us, then we can buy our own healthcare.

This is just unbelievable to me. We have major problems in the middle east, government run health care, government getting bigger an bigger, and yet he finds time to do this. This man is no president. He is just a junior senator who wouldn't finish his term.

Looks like he picked the wrong team at the wrong time...

All of you need to get a LIFE. If the President wants to enjoy any sports WHY NOT. Everyone has an opinion and for you to say he has on right to express his opinion is wrong. HEALTH CARE DID PASS WATCH THE NEWS. LOSER


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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