President Obama's in hot water again. And it's that same old nemesis.
No, not Rush Limbaugh. The other really round culprit. You know, the basketball. Some critics are upset because he's not more inclusive when he participates in the sport.
It's not the first time the president has received criticism for his interest in basketball. Or his preference for men's basketball, that is. Last March, a columnist for USA Today roundly criticized the president for not filling out a NCAA women's basketball bracket -- like he did for their male counterparts.
No girls allowed
Now the kerfuffle is over a game the president hosted at the White House last week. Although he reached out to Members of Congress and his Cabinet to play, all of the invitees had one thing in common -- they were guys.
It's certainly understandable why the president loves the game. After all, he's from
Indonesia Chicago where the greatest player ever to play the game graced the court. And if you don't remember that, Michael Jordan will remind you of that (and then he'll criticize you and everyone else for, well, everything).
But, shouldn't the president extend invites to both sexes?
Old boys club?
NBC White House correspondent Savannah Guthrie asked him that earlier this week. She asked him if his preference for all-male hoops sends the wrong signal. Or as she put it, "Some people might look at it and say, 'Gosh, there's the old boys club again.'"
That's something the president dismisses.
"I gotta say, I think this is bunk," Obama told Guthrie. "Basically, the House of Representatives has a basketball game and they had wanted to play here at the White House court and we invited them."
"I don't know if there are women who— were Members of Congress who play basketball on a regular basis," Obama continued. "I don't think there are. You know, I don't think sends any kind of message or signal whatsoever."
Male vs. Female
That's where there's plenty of disagreement. A conversation on MSNBC's "Cup of Joe" last week might provide some insight as to how people are viewing the issue.
The host of the show, Joe Scarborough, agrees with the president. Holding his head in his hands at one point during Wednesday's program, the former Republican congressman seemed genuinely pained that his colleague -- Guthrie -- spent any portion of her one-on-one with the president on the issue.
Comparing the topic to flaky "balloon boy" coverage, Scarborough told Guthrie, "Speaking for all men -- that was bunk. That question was bunk. What were you thinking?"
"This is a really interesting issue," Guthrie began.
"No, it's not," Scarborough interrupted.
Guthrie explained that the disagreement over the issue seemed to break down across gender lines.
"Most men I talk to say, 'What's the big deal? So a guy can't play basketball?'" she said. "But many, many serious thinking women say, 'Let's call this for it is: This is a networking opportunity. This is a political event."
The Round Mound of Mikulski?
No matter what Guthrie could say, Scarborough wouldn't buy it (see video below). At one point, he sounded like the terminally politically incorrect Michael Scott from the popular TV show "The Office."
"Come on, what are you going to do? Invite Barbara Mikulski over to play basketball with you?" he asked.
Fans of the TV show might remember when Michael was putting together an office basketball team to match up against the warehouse workers. When his rotund middle-aged colleague Phyllis asked to play, Michael -- like Scarborough -- scoffed.
Of course, Michael changed his mind when Phyllis then volunteered to be a cheerleader.
"Oh yuck. That's worse than you playing," Michael said to stunned silence. Then he backtracked and promised Phyllis a spot on the team as an alternate.
As goes Scranton, so goes the White House
No one is suggesting that Obama is a presidential version of the regional manager for Dunder-Mifflin. But, judging how his press secretary responded to a question about the game, we're guessing that the president, like Michael, will eventually come around.
“The President obviously is someone who, as the father of two young daughters, has an avid interest in their competing against anybody on the playing field. The President has certainly played basketball and other sports with women in the past, and I anticipate he'll do so in the future.”
Hey, we'll always invite you to be on our team (and Barbara Mikulski is our center). So follow us on Twitter!