What Is Barack Obama Talking About With These Obtuse Sports References?


A recent long-form feature on President Barack Obama hit The New Yorker’s website over the weekend, and it’s filled with all kinds of sports references. It juxtaposes the imagery of Obama getting hit in the mouth playing basketball with the harsh political blows he’s taken over the past year as scandals have rocked the White House and the President’s approval numbers have tanked.

But Obama himself is the source for some of the interview’s most confusing sports analogies. He called the resurgent al-Qaida – which even CNN recently admitted controls more of the Middle East now than ever before – as “jayvee.” That’s “jayvee” as in J.V. – junior varsity.

“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama told the magazine. “…I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.”

Wait. So Osama bin Laden was the terrorist Black Mamba, and now – without a worthy adversary – the U.S. military is just out there chasing chickens? Aside from being inappropriate, that analogy betrays the kind of dismissive, head-in-the-sand thinking that leads to ambassadors in unsecured consulates getting murdered.

Obama also shifted to lighter fare, weighing in on the concussion-causing brutality of full-contact NFL action:

“I would not let my son play pro football,” he said. “But, I mean, you wrote a lot about boxing, right? We’re sort of in the same realm… At this point, there’s a little bit of caveat emptor. These guys [pro athletes], they know what they’re doing. They know what they’re buying into. It is no longer a secret. It’s sort of the feeling I have about smokers, you know?”

How old are pro athletes? A lot of them are young, but nearly all are over the age of 18. Would Obama – who, if he had a son, might look like an NFL athlete – be able to forbid a grown man from playing a man’s game? Evidently.

Then again, that sort of delusional nannying wouldn’t be a deviation for a man whose Administration – from EPA regulations, to gun control, to Let’s Move, to Obamacare – reflects a “daddy knows best” mentality.

Personal Liberty

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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