irst Fan Barack Obama has revealed his bracket prediction for the 2010 NCAA March Madness basketball tournament. He expects Kansas, Kansas State, Villanova and Kentucky to make the Final Four, with the Kansas Jayhawks winning overall. (Watch Obama fill out his bracket on ESPN.) What do the president's selections reveal about him? The commentators weigh in:
1. He plays it safe
"Barack Obama is a front-running, risk-averse elitist," says Josh Levin in Slate. "Just like in 2008 and 2009, when Obama proved unwilling to make any outré selections, he's gone this year with conventional first-round upsets: Siena over Purdue, Murray State over Vanderbilt, and Cornell over Temple." But if he "wants to win his office pool," he's going to have to pick more upsets.
2. His sports imitate his politics
Remember that the president correctly picked the winning team in his 2009 bracket, says Dan Shanoff in Newsweek. Using that experience as a guide, "Obama's bracket success" seems to closely mimic his political successes: He starts out slow — "stumbling" in the early rounds — "then closes fast and decisively." If it plays out like this, expect "championship moments ahead for Kansas."
3. He has faith in the power of a good leader
"The most revealing aspect of Obama's picks was his reasoning," says Johanna Neuman in the Los Angeles Times. When deciding between Michigan State and Maryland, Obama chose Michigan for its superior coaching. The choice "is an apt metaphor for a president trying to win a historic legislative achievement."
4. He consciously makes smart — not politically motivated — choices
"The president’s selections were rooted in basketball knowledge," says Jeff Zeleny in The New York Times, "rather than trying to curry favor with key political states." Need evidence? "Only one team in the Final Four – Villanova, from Pennsylvania – is from a typical battleground state."
5. His subconscious, however, is totally biased
After some number crunching, says Nate Silver at Five Thirty Eight, it appears Obama has a "bias towards schools from swing states." Obama didn't "pick very many upsets. But "just about every time he did it tended to favor the team from the swingier state." In short, the president "does appear to have been mixing his hoops with his politics. Will the nation ever recover?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why Antonin Scalia was right to defend a drug dealer
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- 10 things you need to know today: April 23, 2014
- Why we need a maximum wage
- Why Mindy Kaling — not Lena Dunham — is the body positive icon of the moment
- Obama doesn't have a manhood problem — but conservatives certainly do
- The sexual politics of Game of Thrones just got enormously worse
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- Why the poor's investment of choice is so alarming
Subscribe to the Week