Barack Obama, Superstar
This must be a trying time to be a political reporter. Everyone’s tired of lame duck George W. Bush but Barack Obama won’t take office for sixty-three days, leaving speculation about appointees and strained a change is a-comin’ stories. For example, Christopher Clarey‘s NYT feature “For Obama, a Scouting Report on Athletic Heads of State.”
The short version: Obama was a bench player on his state championship high school basketball team and he’s still in great shape. Other heads of state like sports, too, including a few who were Olympic caliber athletes. Ergo, he’s going to have a powerful connection with them.
The problem with this is that quite a few recent American presidents have better sporting pedigrees than Obama and it seemed to have no impact at all. For example, George W. Bush was not only an avid runner until his knees finally gave out along with his approval ratings but was an owner and president of a Major League baseball team. George H.W. Bush was captain of the Yale baseball team. Ronald Reagan played sports through college and did radio play-by-play for Iowa Hawkeye football and Chicago Cubs baseball games. Jimmy Carter was a star basketball player in high school. Gerald Ford was a star football player at Michigan.
Hell, Sarah Palin was the starting point guard on her state high school championship team. I don’t recall any NYT stories explaining how that translated into foreign policy expertise.