Well, give President Obama credit: He came out on the right side of his mini-feud with Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Just as the president predicted, the Blue Devils didn't make it to the Final Four. Indeed, they got bounced out by Villanova in the Sweet Sixteen round.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the NCAA Tournament, that's about the only thing that Obama can crow about. Well, that and the fact that his eventual champion, North Carolina, is still playing. But that's it. The Hoopster-in-Chief only picked that team correctly to make the Final Four -- a measly 25 percent accuracy! Heck, your humble writer filled out two sheets and ended up with two teams in each of his Final Four sheets.
And I don't even play ball!
Now, sports and politics occasionally overlap (football players Jack Kemp, Steve Largent and Heath Ledger and baseball player Jim Bunning all made it to the pros before launching political careers). For many years, whenever anyone asked George W. Bush to name the biggest mistake he ever made, Bush would respond "trading Sammy Sosa" -- when Bush was owner of the Texas Rangers (Given the steroid scandal, Bush might reconsider that answer nowadays).
But when you're the president, and you put yourself so far out there -- publicly fill out your bracket and inspire thousands of other sports fans to follow you, well, there is a price to be paid for that sort of leadership. Obama's picks of No. 1 seeds Louisville and Pittsburgh and No. 2 Memphis all lost in the Elite Eight to, respectively No. 2 Michigan State, No. 3 Villanova and No. 1 Connecticut. It's bad enough that there's an awful recession going on. Now, those thousands who put their trust in the president are out, at least ten bucks -- possibly more, depending on how many pools they entered.
Will there be a backlash? Quite possibly.
Far worse, however, is the inevitable loss of faith in the president's decision-making. If he could do this poorly in a subject of which he has some expertise, why should anyone believe him on far more complicated issues -- above his pay grade, as it were? (Of course, the flip side of this is that Obama actually gave his reason for not picking Duke was the Blue Devils' lack of "an inside game." Do we really want the president following sports so closely that he's been paying that much attention to Duke's strengths and weaknesses? I'd rather the president knew more about Iran's inside game.)
Heaven help this presidency if Carolina doesn't win it all!
Robert A. George is a New York writer. He blogs at Ragged Thots.