Why Did It Have to Be Golf?
Watching President Obama catch hell lately, I want to assess 15-yard penalties for piling on.
Much of his trouble stems from political opponents like McConnell, Boehner, Cantor, Paul, Graham, McCain -- rednecks in suits -- unable to cope with a smart president of mixed ancestry. But now, their malice and selfishness and, dare I say it, prejudice, are spreading outward.
The only time I winced during the summer get-him frolics was when the president was photographed apparently enjoying himself playing golf shortly after announcing the beheading of an American journalist by savages. He could not have been more dignified at his official appearance.
What was he supposed to do? Not get photographed, I guess is the answer. What if his children had made him laugh? Some things are best kept private.
I realized, my problem was with the golf. Why did it have to be golf, a compelling sport that nevertheless speaks of money, free time, money, lessons, money, equipment, money, ritual, and money?
People pile on presidents. I get it. If I didn’t like the policies of President Reagan, I made fun of his horseback riding. Ditto, George W. Bush, riding a bike while warning reports sat unread on his desk.
With more than a twinge of guilt, I remember reacting, as a snide teen-ager, to President Eisenhower’s playing golf, even when African-American children were being harassed for seeking an equal public education. Why didn’t he put down the damn putter and escort those children into school? (Ike looks better all the time, as Obama will, down the line.)
Just once, I would like to hear a president say, “Thanks, but I don’t play golf. Just never learned. I was too busy working my way through school, providing for my family, getting into government, and I never could find the time or money to go off for half a day and play golf. Now it’s too late. In my little bit of free time, I’d rather… (ride a bike, swim, work outdoors, jog, play a set or two of tennis, play hoops, or just take a walk to work off steam.)"
I know that lush courses and a chance to schmooze with benefactors are inviting. At least Obama plays golf mostly with people he likes, rather than with people who have been undercutting him since Day One. (“Really? Why don’t you have a drink with Mitch McConnell?” -- one of the great things the president has ever said.)
So, yes, I admit, my personal problem was with the way the president relaxed on his deserved vacation. I fall into the category of a certain Mr. Williams – Tony Soprano’s henchman from the Old Country, real name Furio Giunta – who expresses his view of golf during a shakedown on a course.
I’ve played eight or ten times, always visiting people, and loved every outing, and totally acknowledge golf as a challenging sport, but I was afraid of getting hooked. Plus, who can afford it? Certainly not a president who is catching hell for just about everything, even from people who should know better.
9/3/2014 01:01:43 am
Hey, George. Thanks for this. I agree that the president's vacation golf outings served up some pretty damning optics for his critics. But it's not just the golf baggage -- remember, he's also an enthusiastic body surfer. Had he been in Hawaii, he would have gotten hammered for jumping back in the water after commenting on some pretty awful news. No way a president can look good commenting on a national tragedy when he's in the middle of a de facto public vacation. I like golf. I played on public courses in my youth because the golf club where I caddied (in my beloved Port Washington) did not allow its own caddies to play on Monday, as was the custom everywhere else. (We're talking ancient history here, like the late 1960s and 1970s.) I never did feel it was particularly elite, but then again I didn't play on private or elite courses, though playing Bethpage Black -- even before it was refurbished for the pro tour -- came pretty close. Honestly, I think we're all better off with leaders who have healthy amounts of down time to decompress from the most stressful and lonely job in the world. And how one pulls that off with national and global crises erupting daily is beyond my comprehension.
9/3/2014 07:08:12 am
c'est la vie, ces't la guerre. Actually is is alright for a black president to play golf since the Tiger Woods era, and the President keeps his putter in the bag. When we have a president playing soccer, that will win praise around the world!
9/3/2014 06:34:14 pm
For me, the issue is not how golf reflects privilege but laziness. Louisville Sluggers are wielded more threateningly than Big Berthas. A president with a bat in hand would appear more capable than one dangling a slender staff.
9/4/2014 12:58:18 am
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“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.