An analogy worth thinking about:
I usually don’t admit this to audiences outside of Los Angeles, but Kobe Bryant is my favorite moral philosopher. (Before you get upset about the “moral” in that sentence, please remember: all the criminal charges were dropped.)
Which is why I was encouraged by news reports here in LA that Kobe had breakfast with President Obama this morning. I hope that the president did a lot of listening, and Kobe did most of the talking. Because the president needs to understand the essence of Bryant’s philosophy: when the game is on the line, you must cut your opponent’s throat.
The rest is details. So focus on scoring. Don’t spend your time worrying about being liked. Don’t worry about being a good teammate. And for goodness sakes, don’t pass the ball to Max Baucus or Harry Reid. It’s a fallacy that modern politics and sports are team sports; sure, both involve teams, but basketball games and elections are always won by one star with the will and power and energy to put the ball in the basket even when the whole world is against him.
So you must shoot. And you must keep shooting, even when your shots miss. You can’t make shots you don’t take. If the president asked Kobe’s his views on health care strategy, I’m quite sure the Lakers star would tell him to stop messing around and force the House to pass the Senate bill. Today, before the clock runs out.
I’m not sure the State of the State speech should reflect this sort of unattractive attitude. But the president’s actions should. The president needs more Kobe in his legislative game.