NEW YORK - President Barack Obama filled out his NCAA bracket for ESPN Tuesday, picking Louisville, North Carolina, Memphis and Pittsburgh to make it to the Final Four - all number one seeds with the exception of No. 2 seeded Memphis.
On just about any other day, the President announcing his Final Four picks would cause little stir. But the President's picks flew into the teeth of mounting populist rage triggered by the "retention" bonuses awarded to the geniuses responsible for driving insurance giant AIG off the proverbial cliff - and onto the backs of the American taxpayers who find themselves at the bottom of the ravine.
Fox News TV personality Billl O'Reilly, who knows a thing or two about rage (both populist and personal), lit into the President's picks, calling them "reckless, irresponsible, transparently phony and ill-timed."
O'Reilly devoted an entire "Talking Points Memo" segment of his popular cable show to thunder at the President. "Here we have these crooks at AIG being awarded for their malfeasance to the tune of $165 million in bonuses, and our President is, la-di-da, spending time with ESPN to noodle over this Final Four picks. The 'Memo' wants to know: where is the outrage, Mr. President? The American public is in no mood to be distracted, charmed or amused. What they want to see from their President is a show of focused, sustained fury. Blind rage. If you, Mr. President, are unfamiliar with what blind rage looks like, I submit the following for your edification."
O'Reilly thrilled his loyal viewing audience with a fifteen second highlight reel of his most renowned temper tantrums.
"That, Mr. President, is how it's done," said a visibly self-satisfied O'Reilly, obviously energized by the bravura display of vintage shit-fits. "Point two, the picks themselves. North Carolina out of the South, solid pick, no quarrel there, and I have no problem with Pittsburgh who the Factor believes will emerge from the East. But picking two seed Memphis over the clearly superior (Connecticut) Huskies out of the West - who the Factor is picking to go all the way -- shows the extent to which this President is politicizing his picks. We all know there's no love lost between President Obama and Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman...and picking Louisville over Wake Forrest out of the Midwest is an insultingly transparent attempt to mend electoral fences, as Kentucky went for McCain by a 16 point margin this past November."
O'Reilly brushed aside Republican charges that the President is "willy-nilly" reversing" President Bush's Final Four picks from the year before.
"The Factor has no evidence that that is the case, as, quite frankly, we have no record of the former President making his thoughts on the subject known. But this we do know: Concern about the Obama administration is growing. Fair or not. And that's the memo."
O'Reilly's nemesis Keith Olbermann dismissed the comments out of hand.
"Bill-o doesn't know the difference between jaywalking and a traveling violation and all of a sudden he's Billy fucking Packer? Ridiculous. And the last thing the President needs is a lesson on outrage from a guy that makes Dick Vitale look like Fred McMurray on Paxil. If the President wants to share his Final Four picks with the nation, I don't see the problem. But Memphis, Mr. President? Memphis? Really?"