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White House Hoops – a boys club

October 9, 2009

Interesting observation from Dana Willbank of the Washington Post about Thursday night’s basketball game called by President Barack Obama.

From Wilbank’s column today –

Item: President Obama hosts a basketball game at the White House on Thursday evening for Cabinet secretaries and members of Congress. Of the 15 participants whose names are put out by the White House, not one is a woman — even though Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was a college basketball player and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who was in town for the afternoon, played high school ball.

The game did include Indiana congressmen Baron Hill and Brad Ellsworth, the former Vanderburgh County sheriff. Ellsworth apparently had a pretty good game, according to the Evansville Courier-Press.

He’s accomplished a few things in his life, but now U.S. Rep. Brad Ellsworth can add “Hit a turnaround jumper over the president of the United States” to the list.

After playing basketball with President Barack Obama and other elected and appointed officials Thursday at the White House, Ellsworth said no political issues were discussed.

“Not a bit,” he said from Washington, D.C. “It would have been no different than a bunch of guys playing at Wesselman Park. That’s what it felt like.”

Ellsworth, D-8th District, was on a handpicked roster of Cabinet secretaries and House members who laced ’em up for a series of basketball games with Obama on the White House court. Rep. Baron Hill, D-Ind., and Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., also took the court to join the House members against Obama and his team of Cabinet secretaries and White House aides.

Although Ellsworth said the president never mentioned issues or politics even in passing, the games still served a purpose beyond basketball.

“Of course, being from Indiana, I think everybody understands that camarederie of a good basketball game,” he said. “I theorize that when people can talk and have some casual time together, then when it hits the fan or it gets serious, you can work through things.”

As for the basketball itself, Ellsworth recalled his shining moment with pride.

“I hit a turnaround jumper, and (Obama) was guarding me,” he said with a chuckle. “I heard the other members of Congress do one of those ‘ooooh’ things from the other side.”

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