President Obama is feeling defensive about his foreign policy. And he is keen to use every metaphor in his toolbox to explain it. In his commencement address last week at West Point, the president told the assembled cadets that he wasn’t inclined to use them much in combat: “Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail.”
Several weeks earlier, in a now-infamous press conference in the Philippines on April 28, Obama, an avid sports fan, said that his foreign policy was like baseball: “You hit singles, you hit doubles; every once in a while we may be able to hit a home run.”
The pundits didn’t like the emphasis on small ball. And from a reputational perspective, the president does appear to have forgotten the important lesson that Mark McGwire, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux taught sports fans back in the late 1990s: Chicks dig the long ball. Critic John Podhoretz, among others, noted that this vision of America as a singles hitter, or utility infielder, hardly matches the reality of American power and influence around the world. As even New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, hardly an Obama hater, recently said, “A singles hitter doesn’t scare anybody.”
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