Sitting presidents probably expect to have their every word and deed ripped apart by their political rivals.
But when the president can't even talk about sports without it becoming a political hot potato, perhaps things have gone too far.
As he has for the past two years, President Barack Obama spent 10 minutes on ESPN last week filling his NCAA basketball tournament picks on TV.
His choices were not particularly daring or insightful: Ohio State, Duke, Kansas and Pittsburgh in the Final Four, with Kansas winning.
The reaction was immediate. No, not from slighted sports fans or Las Vegas odds makers. From other politicians.
"How," implored Reince Priebus, "can Barack Obama say he is leading when he puts his NCAA bracket over the budget and other pressing issues." Priebus is Republican National Committee chairman.
Others said it was bad form for the president to be thinking about basketball when he should be thinking about the federal budget, the violence in Libya or the disaster in Japan.
Never mind that Obama opened his ESPN segment with a plea for those watching to open their wallets and make contributions to the charities helping the Japanese people.
The criticism is oddly similar to the heat first lady Michelle Obama has received for trying to get U.S. children to eat more vegetables and get more exercise.
That earned her a blistering from Sarah Palin for meddling in Americans' food habits.
Is there really any hope for a country that is so polarized we can't even agree across party lines that kids should eat spinach and get some exercise?
So long as we're talking sports, Education Commissioner Arne Duncan let some air out of the old roundball last week with a column in the Washington Post.
Duncan pointed out that college basketball players have the lowest graduation rates among all NCAA sports.
Ten years ago, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics proposed that teams that failed to graduate half their players should be ineligible for postseason play.
Half? That's a standard?
Apparently, a decade later, many teams can't even meet that right-handed layup of a goal.
Among the teams failing to meet even that lowly measure are Syracuse and Kansas State.
And it's not as if poor graduation rates are the necessary cost of fielding an excellent team. As Duncan pointed out, two of last year's finalists, Duke and Butler, both had "outstanding" academic records.
And then there's this: Women's teams have much better records. The University of Connecticut women's team graduates more than 90 percent of its black and white players.
The men's team graduates about 50 percent, but only 25 percent of its black players.
The NCAA now has a shamefully low standard: A team must graduate fewer than 40 percent of its players for six consecutive years to potentially be ineligible for post-season play.
Clearly, that needs to change.
The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and editorial board.