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Obama And Notre Dame

Conservatives and partisans of the University of Notre Dame have bitterly attacked the University for allowing President Obama to speak there. I find it strange that the debate has entirely centered around the question of whether Notre dame should legitimize Obama, and ignored the more interesting question of whether Obama should legitimize Notre Dame.

A good example of what I'm talking about comes from National Review's Mike Potemra, who lauds what he calls"Notre Dame's self-image as an all-heart kind of place, an institution that stands up against the powerful naysayers and gives the little guy a chance." Potemra is correct that this is Notre Dame's self-image. But this is like invoking Paris Hilton's self-image as a real-life Cinderella. Notre Dame commands the most powerful media machine in all of sports. It is the only college football program with its own network, and garners high-level talent year after year, which usually underperforms. It is routinely invited to bowls it doesn't deserve. Anytime it can muster a brief stretch of non-terrible performance on the field will summon waves of over-the-top hype, all of it comically wrong. That Notre Dame sees itself as a plucky underdog just shows how comically deluded the place is.

--Jonathan Chait