Liberals Should Stop Complaining About Obama's All-Male Basketball Games

Boys will be boys, but women can be better.


By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

My colleague Bonnie Erbe went after President Obama earlier this week for his all-male basketball game, which led her to this conclusion about him:

Whether it was his treatment of Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail (as in his condescending remark that she was "likeable enough") or his clearly career-oriented mate who has been toned down and remorphed into a Stepford Wife, I just don't get the impression this man is comfortable with women. Nor do I believe he cares about them beyond needing women's votes. It's an act and a thoroughly see-through, amateur one at that.

Bonnie's derision was typical of many liberal writers this week, who were very upset at the president's exclusion of women from the pick-up hoops game he plays with staff and cabinet members. Guys have been doing this in Washington for years. Women haven't. There's a reason. In fact, in an effort at full disclosure, I should tell you that my husband played for years in a regular pick-up game at the indoor gym at the Supreme Court, cleverly called "the highest court in the land." As far as I could tell, it was a bunch of guys who spend too much time under fluorescent lights in the office trying to relive their glory days—and usually ending up on crutches. I was not jealous. Nor was he jealous of my ladies' nine-hole foursomes where the loser buys the chardonnay. He plays golf, but not like that. No interest in joining us.

There's a great piece in the Atlantic by Cristine Russell tying together the president's hoops game, the first Lady's hula-hooping, Gail Collins's new book, When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present, the Shriver Report (which I wrote about a few days ago), the women who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine, and Joanne Lipman's essay in the New York Times last weekend. Both are great reads.

Kathleen Parker, whose writing I love, weighed in with a big yawn and then this gem, which sounds exactly like something my father said to me: 

Not to suggest that men ever do or say anything right, but women peeved by the president's perceived masculine insularity might benefit from my father's advice when, as a young girl, I complained about life's unfairness. "Don't complain about the game," he said. "Learn the game and play it better." There's more than one way to score a point, in other words, and history has never suggested women are unclever. 

According to Maureen Dowd's column, that's just what Melody Barnes, Obama's chief domestic policy adviser, did when she was asked to play golf with the president on Sunday. "I wanted women to still hold their heads up so I didn't want to shoot triple bogeys every hole ... It was all on the line on the 18th hole and I made a clutch putt and now I'm $10 richer." Isn't that the way to beat them at their own game?

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