Times Calls Technical Foul on Obama's All-Male Basketball Games

Mark Leibovich, the paper's political personality reporter, dropped his usual glorification of Democrats in his latest "Washington Memo," instead filing a cultural interest story involving the White House uniquely questioning Obama from the feminist left, albeit under a headline that gives the White House the benefit of the doubt: "Man's World at White House? No Harm, No Foul, Aides Say."

Does the White House feel like a frat house?

The suspicion flared in recent weeks - and not for the first time - after President Obama was criticized by women's advocates and liberal bloggers for hosting a high-level basketball game with no female players.

Leibovich doesn't totally skip the Obama mythologizing, this time for the president's apparently "encyclopedic knowledge of college hoops."

The president, after all, is an unabashed First Guy's Guy. Since being elected, he has demonstrated an encyclopedic knowledge of college hoops on ESPN, indulged a craving for weekend golf, expressed a preference for adopting a "big rambunctious dog" over a "girlie dog" and hoisted beer in a peacemaking effort.

He presides over a White House rife with fist-bumping young men who call each other "dude" and testosterone-brimming personalities like Rahm Emanuel, the often-profane chief of staff; Lawrence Summers, the brash economic adviser; and Robert Gibbs, the press secretary, who habitually speaks in sports metaphors.

The technical foul over the all-male game has become a nagging concern for a White House that has battled an impression dating to the presidential campaign that Mr. Obama's closest advisers form a boys' club and that he is too frequently in the company of only men - not just when playing sports, but also when making big decisions.


Still, some high-profile sectors of the White House - economics and national security, for instance - are filled with men and exude an unmistakable male vibe. Mr. Obama's inner circle includes Mr. Gibbs, Mr. Emanuel and his senior adviser, David Axelrod ("The Boys," as they are known to some female staff members).

In response to the article, the new head of the National Organization for Women has criticized the practice, and Jonah Goldberg of National Review Online actually thinks they have a point, though fears the proposed solutions "will probably be worse than the problem."