Tuesday night President Obama was in Denver and decided to stop in at a brew pub, have a beer, and shoot pool with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. Photos of the President brandishing a pool cue and lining up a shot are all over the internet.
The President’s pool hall visit has received a lot of criticism. Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC and a Democratic Representative from Texas, Henry Cuellar, whose district is on the Mexican border, questioned why the President was shooting pool and drinking beer rather than going down to visit the border and address the flood of unaccompanied minors who are crossing into the U.S. The Congressman called the President’s actions bizarre and said that if he had time to shoot pool and drink beer, he should have made time to visit the border when he came to Texas for fundraisers.
This incident captures why it would suck to be the President in the modern media world. You can criticize the President for his administration’s handling of the immigration issue, and you can question, as I have, why his proposal to deal with the influx of minors doesn’t address securing the porous border that allowed the kids to cross in the first place. But are we really to the point where we’re arguing about the imagery of the President shooting pool as opposed to the substance of his approach? If, instead of shooting pool and drinking a beer, the President was photographed reading a book, or visiting a museum, would we hear the same hue and cry? I doubt it.
We see so much of the airbrushed, sanitized, carefully crafted politicians who are afraid to say and do anything real because they might be criticized. This incident shows why. I might disagree with President Obama’s policies on many things, including immigration, but I’ll defend his right to pick up a cue, line up a shot on the eight ball, and channel his inner Minnesota Fats now and then. Our fixation on photo ops is cheapening our politics.