Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Obamaville March 14 - Primaries and March Madness - America's Entertainment


International Negotiations American Style

For those of you who think we like to mix politics and entertainment, you got it right.  Last night was the pre-opening round of the NCAA tournament when those teams "on the bubble", yet another odd form of media slang, had to play to get into the tournament.

There were two NCAA games and four NIT games and March Madness doesn't even start until tomorrow.  Make no mistake, however, this is really big stuff, much more important than political primaries.

Why even UK Prime Minister David Cameron flew in and he and President Obama took a break from critical world affairs to run down to Dayton, Ohio for the night to see one of the NCAA play-in games.

Play-in games were an underhanded trick by the NCAA to allow more teams into the tournament without adding a huge number of teams, so four teams play each other for the right to play in the NCAA.  In truth it was a way to take advantage of the massive money made from tournament games.

Of course as the last teams to qualify they get the worst seeding so what does that mean to the winner of these games, they play the top seeded teams in the tourney in their next game. So Western Kentucky, after staging the greatest four minute comeback in NCAA tournament history, now has to face the top team in the nation, the mighty Kentucky Wildcats who are the concensus favorite to win the national championship.  The game is in Louisville.

By the way, as our two heads of state watched on Western Kentucky staged the greatest five minute comeback in NCAA history as they came from 16 points down to win 59-58 over Mississippi Valley State.

The next game in Dayton saw even more history made as BYU staged the greatest comeback in the NCAA history by coming from 25 points behind.  Previously, the largest deficit overcome was 22 points in 2001 when Duke fought back to beat Maryland 95-84 in the national semifinals.

Back to our leaders, we all know Obama loves basketball.  In fact it has been good for basketball and good for Obama politically.  But the Brits, well they have a little problem with strange games in the colonies such as basketball and leaders going out for a good time. Check out this fun report of the game by the London Daily Mail.

The London Daily Mail

Don't risk looking like a basket case, Dave

By Melissa Kite


British Prime Ministers are good at many things, but high-fiving whilst eating hotdogs has never been one of them.

David Cameron did his best to look like he was enjoying all the slam-dunking action at the basketball, but this really isn’t our thing, is it? I mean, the only thing we Brits have ever put in a basket for cultural or leisure purposes is a piece of chicken.

Barak Obama invited Mr Cameron to watch Western Kentucky University take on Mississippi Valley State in the opening game of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men's Basketball tournament, known as March Madness, apparently.

At half-time, the pair were interviewed by Clark Kellogg of CBS Sports and Mr Cameron, an Old Etonian more used to cricket, rugby and The Eton Wall game, tried to pretend he was lovin’ it.

The Prime Minister said: “I'm enjoying it. It's fast, it's pretty fast and furious. It's hard to follow sometimes exactly who's done what wrong.”

Which is a bit like British politics, I suppose. One minute you’re a popular leader in an open-necked shirt hugging hoodies, the next minute you’ve got a fractious coalition to lead and just when you should be worrying about your Budget statement and an impending re-shuffle, you have to get on a plane to the United States and eat hot dogs in front of the cameras at a basketball match.

Asked if the President was helping him make sense of it all, Mr Cameron said: “He's giving me some tips. He's going to help me fill out my bracket.”

I don’t know what that means, but I’m guessing it’s not about the pair of them doing a spot of DIY shelf assembly.

It’s always the same when British Prime Ministers meet US Presidents. Remember the banter when Tony Blair hobnobbed with George W Bush at Camp David? There was some gobbledegook talked then about how they used the same toothpaste.

In the effort to be folksy and populist, to mingle British and American culture together to achieve a sort of transatlantic mateyness, something always gets lost in translation.

It makes you long for the days when world leaders simply held talks behind closed doors then gave a short press conference in the Rose Garden. At least we could understand what they were on about.

What about the political primaries?

Oh yeah, I almost forgot.  Santorum was the surprise winner of both Mississippi and Alabama although I don't understand why the media was surprised since the two states are 80% evangelical and Santorum is the pride of the social moral majority issues.

A bigger surprise was how that liberal from Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, managed to split the vote with Preacher Santorum and Professor Gingrich.  Since Mitt also won primaries in Hawaii and Guam he actually finished third in the two southern states (just barely) yet still walked away with more delegates to the GOP convention.

So I guess the lesson this week is losing can still be winning in politics in America.

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