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Obama Takes Heat for His 'March Madness' Picks Amid World Crises

3 years ago
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For the third year in a row, President Obama filled out his "March Madness" bracket on ESPN, but this time he's taking some heavy criticism -- and not for his picks.

On Twitter, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus took the first shot: "How can @BarackObama say he is leading when [he] puts his NCAA bracket over the budget & other pressing issues?"

Citing crises ranging from the multiple disasters in Japan to unrest in the Middle East and the budget deadlock in Congress, RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said Wednesday, "With all of those pressing issues on the president's plate, we would be happy to hear the White House explain why filming an ESPN special on the NCAA Tournament should be a priority on his public schedule."

White House spokesman Jay Carney was happy to oblige. The presidency, he acknowledged, is "a hard job" that requires someone adept at juggling its many demands.

"There are crises all the time, for every president," he said. The earthquake/tsunami/nuclear reactor catastrophe in Japan "is happening halfway around the world -- and it is severe and it is important, and it is the focus of a great deal of the president's attention. As are the events in the Middle East, as are the agenda items that he is pursuing to grow the economy and increase jobs in America."

He also pointed out that Obama said at the outset of the ESPN interview that Americans can help those suffering in Japan by making donations via the USAID website.

In an interview with ESPN's Andy Katz in the White House Map Room, the president said "the chances are high" that he, like countless other Americans, will divert his attention from business matters from time to time Thursday and Friday as the tournament moves into full swing.

One of his picks -- VCU -- has already rewarded the president's faith, beating Southern California Wednesday night in a play-in game. Boiling the entire field down, the Fan in Chief expects to see Duke, Kansas, Ohio State and Pitt in the Final Four, with Kansas winning it all.

This isn't the first time the president has taken heat for his diversions. His fondness for golf has drawn criticism from Republicans -- a curious bit of commentary since one of their own, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was famous for his time on the links, even when pressing matters were at hand.

But the president got some unexpected support from the other side of the aisle in that regard Wednesday when former Vice President Dan Quayle came to his defense.

"I'm glad he's out playing golf," Quayle -- a golfer himself -- told Fox Business Channel. "I think presidents deserve down time. And, believe me, he is in constant communication with what's going on. . . . What do you want him to do, stay in his house and be on the phone with the ambassador to Japan all the time?"

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74 Comments

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jgr414155

" I won't rest until we get unemployment down" Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Obama is out shooting hoop, golfing, having concerts, traveling, fund raising, when will his actions match his words?

March 22 2011 at 8:11 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
copperkettle3

If Obama fixed the whole economy, and we were at peace throughout the world, the right wingers would still complain about everything he does.

March 22 2011 at 6:46 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
Richardhg

It is unfortunate that American politics has become so partisan that any issue, any issue at all, is seized on as a basis for criticism.

For those that are looking for ever more insane things to criticize, why not criticize President Obama for having two daughters, and not having a son? Or for spending time with his family when there are pressing matters of state?

Unjustified criticism never involves logical argument. For example, those who criticize the President for his social activities have no specific agenda for the alternative use of his time. Or an alternative health plan to the compromise that passed the House and Senate.

At a time when US Governments need a huge overhaul at City, County, State and Federal level, the US is still mired in idiocy, wading through the molasses of tradition, mis-reading the messages of history through the eyes of Belief.

Unjustified criticism of the President is simply another indication that partisan politicians are prepared to bring down the country in the effort to get elected. Look very carefully at the people who level these criticisms, and research what they have actually done to move the country forward during their tenure in business and politics. Consider their criticism in the light of their own achievements. Then, if they are simply flapping jaws, replace them with more effective management.

March 22 2011 at 9:42 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
oldengineera2

People way underestimate the economic impact of the NCAA series. Why just yesterday, the economy of East Lansing was boosted by beer sales directly attributable to the convergence of St. Patrick's day and a humiliating loss to UCLA, requiring more gallons of beer to drown one's sorrows. You go, Mister President: some of those kids have years to go before they move back into mom's basement in your jobless economy!

March 18 2011 at 8:22 PM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
gzimm42

It takes, what, ten minutes to fill this out? Is that so shameful, to do something that MILLIONS of Americans do? Is he not allowed a few minutes to do something other than focus on Libya? Give me a break! Can't the Republicans focus on cooperation rather than carping and being obstructionists?

March 18 2011 at 4:14 PM Report abuse -8 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gzimm42's comment
oldengineera2

Most citizens do not take the trouble to go on national television to announce their picks. Aside from that, you may have a point.

March 18 2011 at 8:42 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
passin' through

The problem is not that he filled out his NCAA bracket card or taped a interview it is that once again he is tone deaf to American politic. He demonstrates an aloof quality that does not serve him or us well. He has sat on the sidelines on Libya and in so doing has most likely blown the chance to dispose a muderous thug from power. Aloof or inept? Hard to tell the difference. And the more he demonstrates his condescension the more he shows himself to be inept as well.

March 18 2011 at 1:30 AM Report abuse +12 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to passin' through's comment
Gregory Overfelt

He needed to wait until the Arab league gave their blessing for intervention. If he had acted alone as some republicans wanted to do, the the arabs (if they didn't agree) could've placed an ebargo on oil shipments then the repubs would've had another thing to bitch about $7.00 gasoline in america. Of course this prbably delight the repubs because the own stock in oil.

March 20 2011 at 9:48 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
J. PETER SMITH

Obama never seems to know what he talking about. In regard to basketball picks he is worse then ever. He should soley spend his time triying to beef up the ecomey, cut the budget defiit greatly and work extra card to improve our relationships with friendly countryes overseas

March 17 2011 at 11:54 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
snrar

The real issue is that Obama seems detached from things and when he does things like this he gives the impression that he is above some things when he is not . Yes maybe it was only five minutes of his time to make these basketball picks , But with all the important and critical issues facing this nation and the world he just doesn't get it or he just doesn't care . He is that same guy who would vote present yet would not vote on just about anything . I get the impression that he is just lazy !

March 17 2011 at 10:52 PM Report abuse +11 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to snrar's comment
tenderlies1

Has he taken a full day, do you realize tht even on vacation he is still working. Do you realize that President Bush played Golf while our Military people were being killed in War's. Do you know how many times he flew to his Ranch . No you don't cate about that you are jusst digging at Pbama because thats what you have been told to do. He is doing his Job, you need to worrie about what your party is doing. Fighting amongst them selves and fighting and arguing over crap that means nothing. Zero done on Jobs, Zero sensible cut's for the budget, oh yeah one big acomplishment, De Funding NCR yeahhhh that really helpe's who The Republicans Maybe?

March 17 2011 at 11:34 PM Report abuse -14 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to tenderlies1's comment
oldengineera2

Did the Republicans actually defund National Cash Register? I'm shocked!

March 18 2011 at 8:23 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down
imarti9625

The presiden'ts behavior at critical times is disturbing. Sure, I think he deserves some leisure time, but come on, a crisis comes first. He was on the golf course as the tragedy in Japan unfolded. You say he was fully informed, maybe. But, I, as an American was embarrassed to think how little regard he has for humanity. We've got Americans in Japan too! I can't imagine what would have happened if George Bush had taken off for a much needed vacation or round of golf while 9/11 unfolded.

March 17 2011 at 10:03 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to imarti9625's comment
cmturek6

UH hello, we were the first country to start actively evacuating our citizens as well as promote a 50 mile perimeter to avoid radiation contamination. As far as Libya, we only have so may options, the UN makes the call there. Lastly to the Chinese American who commented, please feel free to go back to China. I mean after all Democracy is what allowed you to share your ignorance with us today....go try it in China and see what happens.

March 18 2011 at 9:54 AM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
Mikey

...Come on now. This is nit picking. There are far more serious issues we face as a nation. Unemployment, high taxes, deficit spending, balanced budget, proper health care reform, housing foreclosures as well as poverty and the homeless. Let him play with his sports braket thinggy.

March 17 2011 at 9:09 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

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