Election season and baseball season intersected on Monday night as President Obama poked fun at Boston fans during a Massachusetts fundraiser after the Red Sox traded fan-favorite Kevin Youkilis to his cherished Chicago White Sox. As video from the event spread, so did questions over whether the crowd reacted with a round of boos for the commander-in-chief. "Talking sports on the stump is an easy way for a politician to connect with crowds and bolster his or her 'regular guy' credentials. But, as many have learned, a botched sports reference can seriously backfire," said Liz Marlantes at the Christian Science Monitor. The whole episode has some commentators wondering how Obama's fandom factors into his campaigning:
"We have a president that made a harmless sports joke before an audience of ideological besties. We have an opposing team (sports term) that immediately criticized the president for his harmless sports joke. We have a presidential team that, in turn, defended the president's harmless sports joke. We have Barack Obama making a nothing joke about a baseball player, and we have that joke becoming a thing."
"Politics are a big deal, and trying to get any advantage you can over your opponents can tend to get a little silly, as it did here. Honestly, anyone who changes their vote based on Obama teasing people about Youkilis -- even during such an emotionally-sensitive state as this, with a team that's in the playoff race despite not having all of its best players around all season -- might need to do some brushing up on the actual issues."
"What Obama is doing, though, is not in any way a rejection of sports pandering; it is its apotheosis. Obama's reach is just broader, playing to sports fans generally, rather than to the city or state he may be visiting. This also helps on the bipartisanship front."
"Actually, trying to buddy up to a bunch of donors by pretending to be an informed baseball fan is a form of pandering, and one of the most annoying to hear for 'true sports fans.' Remember, the president even wore a White Sox cap during his ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals. What a loyal guy! Except, of course, when asked who his favorite White Sox players were later during the broadcast, Obama answered, 'You know uh... I thought that... uh... you know... the truth is a lot of the Cubs I like too!'"
Follow Danny Groner on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DannyGroner