The most embarrassing interview President Barack Obama has yet given was to Washington Nationals broadcaster Rob Dibble April 5.
The president had just thrown out the ceremonial first pitch at the National's home opener against the Philadelphia Phillies, and had gone up to the broadcast booth for a little small talk.
That first pitch had been something of an embarrassment. It was a soft looping throw so far to the left that third baseman Ryan Zimmerman had to jump from the plate and reach high over his head to catch it. Mr. Obama throws like a girl.
For the ceremony, the president wore a Nationals' jacket, but a Chicago White Sox baseball cap.
"I'm a South side kid and I've got to make sure that (White Sox owner) Jerry Reinsdorf doesn't get too angry with me," Mr. Obama explained to Mr. Dibble and his broadcast partner, Bob Carpenter.
The president has said often the White Sox are his favorite baseball team. So Mr. Dibble (who once pitched for the White Sox) innocently asked Mr. Obama who his favorite White Sox players were.
There was a long, awkward pause. The president couldn't think of any. Nor did he know the name of the ball park where the White Sox play. (Since 2003, the White Sox have played in U.S. Cellular Field, which was built next door to the now demolished Comiskey Park. Mr. Obama referred to it as "Cominskey" Park. Perhaps his fondness for Chicago radical Saul Alinsky led to the confusion.)
You don't need to be a good athlete to be a good president. Or a baseball fan, either. But if you pretend to be a baseball fan when you're not, you're a phony, and phonies rarely make good presidents.
With the enthusiastic help of the sports media, Mr. Obama has been portraying himself as the fan-in-chief. ESPN showed him filling out his brackets for the NCAA basketball tournament (his picks crashed and burned, as did mine). At halftime in the championship game, CBS treated us to a feature of sportscaster and former basketball star Clark Kellogg throwing a game of HORSE to the president. CBS also featured an interview with the president prior to the Super Bowl.
This a remarkable amount of attention for a guy whose sole claim to athletic accomplishment was riding the pine for his high school basketball team. Gerald Ford, who was an All American football player at the University of Michigan, never got (or sought) anything like it.
I get irritated when Mr. Obama intrudes on a venue which ought to be politics free. Apparently, I'm not alone. Mr. Obama's approval ratings currently are the lowest of his presidency. The more we see of him, the less we like him.
The drop in approval ratings is, of course, due much more to opposition to his policies than to his constant appearances on sports shows, or Oprah. But the more the president speaks, the more we see a petulant, immature side of him that was carefully concealed during the campaign.
In an interview Thursday (4/8) with George Stephanopoulus of ABC, Mr. Obama took a shot at Sarah Palin, who had criticized his new nuclear weapons policy the night before.
"The last time I checked, Sarah Palin is not much of an expert on nuclear issues," the president said.
A president ought not to be hurling school yard insults at a former candidate for vice president. It diminishes his status, and elevates hers. The foolishness of the president's fit of pique was illustrated by the attention the news media gave Ms. Palin's rejoinder about the "community organizer's" nuclear expertise.
It's pretty clear Sarah Palin is living rent free in Mr. Obama's head. (Could this be because she was the captain and star point guard of her high school basketball team, while he was a benchwarmer on his?) She discombobulates him in ways no other potential Republican challenger in 2012 does.
CBS released a poll Thursday (4/8) that purports to show Ms. Palin is too unpopular to be president. It showed 24 percent of respondents have a favorable opinion of her, 38 percent an unfavorable one, and 37 per cent were either undecided or hadn't heard enough about her.
But Ms. Palin's unfavorable rating is significantly lower than Mr. Obama's, despite the fact that he has received fawning press coverage, and she the most hostile in modern political history. This may be why she's living rent free in his head.