The American political noise machine has reached the sports world as President Obama is being criticized for voicing an opinion on LeBron James's next destination.
In an interview for TNT, Obama told Marv Albert, " I don't want to meddle but you could see LeBron fitting in pretty well there [Chicago]."
This is not exactly front-page material considering Obama said nothing controversial. He simply answered the question that was posed to him by Albert about the future of the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar.
But of course absolutely everything the president says is offensive to someone. Many Republicans and "Tea Partiers" would bash Obama for any answer he gave.
Not surprisingly, the people of Cleveland are upset with Obama's comments as well. Like that clingy boyfriend who won't let go, Cavs fans freak with any mention of LeBron leaving their city. There has even been speculation that this one presidential suggestion could change Ohio from a blue state to a red state in 2012.
This reaction is laughable. Imagine for a second, enraged Clevelanders, that Ohio Governor Ted Strickland is elected President at some point. How would you feel if he suddenly pretended he wasn't a Cavaliers fan? I'm sure that would go over well with the Ohio diehards. Yet, that's almost exactly what recent critics would like the President to do to Chicagoans.
To the New Yorkers who are worried Obama is swaying LeBron away from their city -- if Rudy Giuliani were President would you want him to ignore the Yankees? I didn't think so.
Obama is an avid Chicago sports fan, having spent most of his professional career there. He invited the Bulls over to the White House last year and has consistently shown an expertise on all sports things Chicago (though his knowledge of the White Sox is suspect).
This contrasts with Obama's rival for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton. Clinton grew up in the Chicago suburbs as a Cubs fan. She was not a bleacher bum, but her affinity for the North Siders was no secret. But when she ran for the Senate in New York, Clinton changed from Cubbie blue to Yankee pinstripes.
There's something to be said for the leader of the free world having loyalty to a sports team. The American people expect their president to be authentic.
By asking President Obama to stifle his past and not embrace something that's meaningful to him, Clevelanders are asking him to be a disloyal phony.
Obama's statements about LeBron and the Bulls show that he says what he feels and is not willing to pander. This might or might not bode well for the future of the Bulls, but it' does for the country.