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The end of the old boys golf club


Last week, MSNBC's Savanna Guthrie asked President Obama why no women had been invited to play basketball at the White House. "Some people," she said, might see hints of the "old boys club" at work. Obama was not pleased. "This is bunk,” he retorted. Joe Scarborough defended him the next morning on air. "What are you going to do?" He demanded of Guthrie. "Invite Barbara Mikulski over to play basketball with you?”

Good point by Scarborough: The men of Congress are paragons of physical fitness. It's only the women who seem like they might have difficulty sustaining full-court press. As Jimmy Orr noted, Michael Scott would back him up on this:

But whatever you think of it, the criticism worked. On Sunday, Obama invited Melody Barnes along on his Sunday golf outing. Initially, Bill Burton told reporters that this was not the first time Obama had asked a woman along on a presidential golf game, "but he later notified reporters that he had been wrong, and that Barnes was in fact the first woman Obama has golfed with as president."

Photo credit: Lawrence Jackson/AP.

By Ezra Klein  |  October 26, 2009; 10:35 AM ET
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Just curious: How many women did President Clinton and President Bush golf with during their presidencies?

I bet there weren't that many if at all.

I think this is a DUMB storyline.

Posted by: maritza1 | October 26, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I'm as sensitive to casual sexism as anybody (or at least, I try to be), but I'm skeptical of this. I don't know who the President has invited to play basketball with him, but I'm willing to give him that area of his life to be apolitical. I want people to not only consider people of a certain gender when they're playing some game, but I also don't like the idea of the President feeling like he's got to play with someone in his off time that he maybe doesn't want to play with because his hobbies are now being watched.

Posted by: MosBen | October 26, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

This story is absurd, and of course the original question came from some actress on cable news, which spawns this whole silly fiasco.

What's refreshing here is Obama at once called the story "bunk" then gave in to it in order to kill it, which shows how absurd it is. Poor Melody Barnes probably had to give up watching college football like the rest of us to play golf with the president just to take the air out of this stupid, Washington-centric obsession with gender politics.

Posted by: zeppelin003 | October 26, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

barack obama is married to a strong woman, with an accomplished career in her own right, who seems like a full partner in his life.

he seems completely present and adoring of his daughters.
he treats the women in his life with love and respect....
he does not demean them or humiliate them.
he does not treat the people who work for him as sex objects for his personal pleasure.
he respects women, he respects his marriage, he respects his wife's dignity and intelligence.
his wife is not a backdrop or silent ornament in his life.
he keeps his marital life off of the front pages.
he gives lectures to young people about reaching their higher potential, and has inspired a generation of young girls, and boys.
he treats everyone with respect, even the people who dont treat him with respect.

i dont care if he doesnt ask claire mccaskill to play basketball with him, or kathleen sebelius to lift weights with him.

Posted by: jkaren | October 26, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I'm certainly no Obama supporter but this criticism for not including women for a basketball game goes way too far.

Basketball is a contact sport even among the best of friends, it just happens. I know I would feel terrible if I accidentally knocked a woman to the floor playing a game.

Maybe a game of 'horse' but not a regular game.

Posted by: spamsux1 | October 26, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

See, spamsux1, that's where we part ways. I'd feel bad knocking someone to the floor whether it was a man or a woman. Still, it's part of the game and whether it's a man or a woman they take that risk when they agree to play. The issue isn't that women are so dainty that President Obama shouldn't have to play with them, it's that in his spare time he should get to choose who he plays a game with.

Posted by: MosBen | October 26, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

what honestly scares me about this is the "reflexive" nature of our President who has now seemingly done this on several occasions. He seems to want to be so well liked he seemingly needs to please everyone. That's not the way that it works.

Originally he told the reported that it was "bunk" and I believe he was right. Then we get this? Maybe its a coincidence but I'm worried about how he's perceived. If you don't like what he says on something, whine about it, or make a stink about it and maybe it gets changed. Not very assertive if you ask me.

Posted by: visionbrkr | October 26, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Here's the thing...we know how decisions get made, things get done. And it is not always (perhaps even rarely) at meetings where all the "stakeholders" are represented. Add to that the President (or CEO or whatever) is almost always working and I think the story does say something about how little some things change.

Posted by: luko | October 26, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

This is an absurd story. I bet that was the first and last POTUS interview Guthrie ever gets. Way to stick to the improtant issues Savanna.

I'm not an Obama fan, but to think that he has to worry about gender when choosing who to play recreational sports with is crazy. Its supposed to be a time for relaxation, and there is nothing relaxing about having a fake golf outing, or BB game, just to appease the feminists.

Lets face it, there aren't many women out there that can play a competitive game of BB. Yeah, yeah WNBA and Women's NCAA....but get real folks, that's like .001% of the population, and I doubt any of them are hanging around DC.

Posted by: truth5 | October 26, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Susan Rice, Kathleen Sebelius and Samantha Power all play basketball and Obama could ask them to join him in a game. In fact, I wish he'd done that instead of having them join his administration.

Posted by: rdklingus | October 26, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

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