President Barack Obama (Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP)
President Barack Obama will fly Air Force One to your hometown, he'll praise your local politicians, visit your favorite diner, sample your local fare, kiss your baby and (ahem) he'll take your donations—but he isn't going to pretend to like your baseball team, America.
Not unless your team is the Chicago White Sox.
That was the message from White House press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday as he tried to squelch "some really silly reporting" about how the crowd at a Boston fundraiser the night before booed Obama after he thanked Red Sox fans for trading Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox.
The response? Here's how the White House's official transcript put it: "Booo."
"I'm just saying: He's going to have to change the color of his socks," Obama added, getting what sounded like laughter and boos from the rowdy but friendly crowd.
"I didn't think I'd get any 'boos' out of here, but I guess I shouldn't have—I should not have brought up baseball. I understand. My mistake," said the president.
Cue the audience: "Booo."
Back to Obama: "My mistake. You've got to know your crowd!" One audience member called out, "We still love you!" and the president launched into his stump speech.
Carney tried to convince reporters Tuesday that the crowd was yelling Boo-urns. No, wait, that was the response from every snarky journalist on Twitter. Carney insisted that the crowd was yelling "YOUK!"
"Anyone who knows Boston and knows the Red Sox, and who was in that room, knows that the preponderance of people shouting in response to what the president said about Kevin Youkilis were saying 'Youk,' not 'Booo,' for God's sake," the spokesman insisted. He later acknowledged that there may have been some good-natured booing.
But Carney defended the president's teasing of the crowd as a sign of virtue.
"I don't think the American people appreciate it when politicians suddenly pretend they're fans of another team just to try to curry favor," the spokesman said.
"The president is very serious about his sports. He will not do that. He will not cross that line."
"He is a White Sox fan. He owns his fandom of the White Sox, and proved that again last night," Carney said.
And Carney added a personal note. "I am very sad to see Youkilis go. He has a fond place in my heart for all he contributed to two World Series teams."
More than one presidential candidate has been knocked off message by something small, and American voters take seriously their loyalties to the transient millionaires who make up their sports teams. So could Obama's diamond dust-up really hurt his chances of getting back to the Oval? Spoiler: No. But it did not go unnoticed by Mitt Romney's campaign.
"In baseball, an error is a misplay or fumble, as when a player drops a pop fly or lets a ground ball go through his legs," spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in an email to reporters early Tuesday. "Last night in Boston, President Obama went to the heart of Red Sox nation and committed an error by taunting fans over the Kevin Youkilis trade to the Chicago White Sox."
"The Red Sox have suffered many setbacks over the years—the Babe Ruth trade, the ball through Buckner's legs, the Bucky Dent home run," she said.
"Maybe the President should have congratulated the team for winning the World Series in 2004 and 2007. Instead, he chose to mock them for trading away one of its favorite players at a time when the team is struggling," Saul said. "Score that an error."