From Ovechkin to Obama


The last two nights, I’ve possessed the two hottest tickets in Washington On Tuesday, it was Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs’ first round series between the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers. Wednesday night, I was one of the journalists at President Obama’s prime-time press conference. And, remarkably, there were a number of similarities.

Both events were standing room only — although the hockey game did have 18,000 seats, while the press conference had about 350. Both events featured a master in his respective profession — Obama has been described as a political "rock star," and the Caps’ Alex Ovechkin has been talked about as the closest thing hockey has to a "rock star." And I sat nervously in the audience during both, at the hockey game hoping that the Caps would score the winning goal to break the 1-1 tie (they did, resulting 15 minutes of bedlam), and at the press conference wondering if the president would call my name (a feeling that me and 340 other some journalists filed out afterwards having not experienced).

As for the press conference itself, there was little in the way of specifically Jewish-related news. Obama did say he wants to start the process of formulating legislation on comprehensive immigration reform and said he wanted a "more thoughtful approach" that focused on the immigration violations of employers instead of only raids on illegal workers. He also called the Freedom of Choice Act, which would eliminate federal, state and local restrictions on abortion, "not my highest legislative priority," instead preferring to focus on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies. That legislation is backed by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and the National Council of Jewish Women.

Nothing Israel-related came up, although I was ready with questions on the new Iran sanctions bill and the administration’s willingness to deal with a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas — even if members of the government have not recognized Israel or renounced terrorism. Maybe next time, perhaps? Most reporters didn’t go home completely happy — unlike all the Caps fans who left the Verizon Center the previous night — but there will be another chance in a few weeks.

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