Mark Leibovich’s profile of Robert Gibbs and the Obama campaign’s communications operation was much-discussed when it came out in December. But there was one troubling passage in the piece that has not gotten the attention it deserves:
[Anita] Dunn tells the story of a tense practice session before the third debate in which Obama, sitting at a table, kept looking intently at Gibbs across the room. They were sending urgent-looking BlackBerry messages back and forth, and Dunn became concerned that some crisis had arisen. When the session ended, the men ran over to each other. It was a Sunday afternoon, and they had been following the fortunes of Obama’s fantasy football team.
I have a longstanding beef with fantasy sports, and this is mostly just an excuse to link to the case against fantasy sports that I wrote several years ago. Fantasy sports are ruining the real games for the rest of us. If Obama is setting a good example by quitting smoking, he could do us all a favor by kicking this habit as well.
But as Michelle Obama no doubt knows, the hobby also has a way of taking over a person’s life. We’re still a few weeks away from the start of spring training, and yet already this past Saturday my husband rushed through the end of dinner and out of the restaurant because he had to send off his keeper picks before the league’s midnight deadline. If Obama spends his debate prep emailing about fantasy football, what could happen in a White House stocked with jocks? Mr. President, I know some of these men. They’re in my husband’s league. They’re obsessed. You can’t afford critical policy briefings spent ridiculing each other about disastrous trades or injuries. Stop the fantasy sports madness before it’s too late.