- By David RothkopfDavid Rothkopf is visiting professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His latest book is The Great Questions of Tomorrow. He has been a longtime contributor to Foreign Policy and was CEO and editor of the FP Group from 2012 to May 2017.
Having watched the video of Bolivian President Evo Moralesdelivering a crisp knee to the groin of an opponent during a weekend soccermatch, we can only imagine the emotions that flowed through the mind of President BarackObama.
His first reaction probably went something like this…
"How soon can we set up agame with the White House press corps? Or better yet, what are the odds wecould just set one up with the boys at Fox News? Or, better yet, perhaps we couldset up a league. Everybody always says that what U.S. politics needs issomething like the Brits’ "Question Time." But what we really need is aBolivian political soccer league.
"Not only would this give us something to talk to theBolivians about and thus the first hint of an actual Latin America policy since we took office, but Michelle would love it, as it would fit right in with heranti-obesity campaign. She doesn’t much like me in shorts, I’ll admit that… Ihate it when she calls me President Bird Legs. But, on the other hand it wouldtake a much smaller bite out of our weekends than golf.
"Speaking of campaigns, Axe will love it because it willfinally give me something big for the Latinos, which is important since theyknow as well as I do that although I understand how important real immigrationreform is, they know I have been tiptoeing around the issue.
"Gibbs ought to love it too — he was a goalie in college. But if he plays, it’ll be hard to get Tim Kaine on the team, given the way he wasblindsided by the Gibbs-to-the-DNC trial balloon. But if we want a Virginianfor the team, we could always go to Jim Webb. He’s so mean, he’s alreadydemonstrated he might be willing to kick a girl.
"With a league we could play the press corps one week, Foxone week… please, oh, please give me O’Reilly in man-to-man… or even better, let me cover Roger Ailes. Now that would be a sight, seeing that whale in shorts. Then,in week three, we play the Young Guns. I’ll give them a shot or two they won’tforget. Then, in week four, in the interest of fairness, maybe we can play theMama Grizzlies. Come to think of it, they carry firearms. Maybe we’ll just skipto the week five opponent — and who doesn’t need a swift kick more than Bibi?
"Week six, let’s see… how about playing the team from theClinton Global Initiative? Bill’s been running circles around me for weeksnow, but I bet the shoe would be on the other foot on the south lawn soccerpitch. Finally, a break from those forced smiles…
"Then, maybe a good game with Tom Donohue and those folksover at the Chamber of Commerce. They’ve been kicking me since the day I gothere. Maybe Evo could teach me a few special moves for them…
"Speaking of which, there’s a lesson in this. For a coupleyears there it looked like Morales would be seen as the first indigenouspresident of Bolivia, or maybe as a Chavez wannabe, but in one Sunday afternoonburst of scapular artistry, he has redefined his legacy. He will now beremembered more for this kick than for anything he has done as president. Haveto keep that in mind. Have to keep those emotions in check. Someone else needsto do the kicking.
"Wait, where’s Rahm? Is Rahm really gone? Who’s going to bethe First Knee now? Do I have to do everything here myself?…
Then Obama’s roused from his daydream by a phone call. It’s JimDeMint, calling to ask if the president and his inner circle would be up for alittle friendly soccer match. And on the other line is Nancy Pelosi, on behalfof the Congressional Democratic leadership. What’s that about?