President Obama sat down with ESPN's Bill Simmons and talked sports. Perhaps his strategists figured out that they needed neutral territory to make Obama seem less awful. And hey, it kind of works! It almost seems like you could watch a game with the guy.
The only part that reminds you of how annoying he can be is where he tries to say he was into Jeremy Lin before it was cool to be into Jeremy Lin. Really? Come on, man, you're president. You don't need to impress hipsters.
But leave it to the Washington Examiner's Byron York to figure out some awesome subtext from the interview. He points out that Obama goes after one of his predecessors and praises another, and not in the way you might have expected:
The indirect shot was directed at former President Bill Clinton. The subject was golf, a sport Clinton was probably as famous for cheating as he was for playing. "I am very proud of the fact I do not cheat when I’m playing golf," Obama told Simmons. "Anybody who plays with me, they’ll say I count my strokes. I count my strokes. I don’t — I’m not getting five-foot gimme putts."
Said Simmons: "I guess you have to play it that way because then people could be, "I played with Obama" —
"And he cheated," said Obama, finishing the thought.
Obama did not mention Clinton by name, but the former president was famous for taking mulligans and, yes, five-foot gimme putts.
As for the praise for a predecessor? Turns out the guy he's been blaming for everything that ails the world managed one thing all right:
President George W. Bush's name came up when Obama discussed the difficulty of throwing the first pitch at nationally-televised professional baseball games. Obama said it is difficult to throw while wearing the bulletproof vest that the Secret Service requires, and he recalled the time Bush threw the first pitch during the World Series held in New York shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"[The vest] is a little bulky," Obama said. "I give credit -- when I think about George Bush and the pitch he threw at 9/11. Unbelievable pitch."
"Right down the middle," Simmons said.
"Right down the middle," Obama continued. "And huge credit for that. I give that guy a lot of props for that one."
Simmons responded: "And I think [Derek] Jeter said to him before the game, 'Don’t screw this up,' or something like that."
"That's exactly what he said," Obama answered. "He saw him behind the bullpen and said, 'Don’t screw it up.' And he didn’t."
That dig against Clinton is kind of funny, eh? And he's right about Bush's pitch. Say what you will about the man, but that was just beautiful.