December 30, 2009

Michelle Cottle is really getting on Barack Obama's case about playing golf.

She writes:
Why would a leader vowing to shake up Washington--to alter the very nature of politics--sell his soul to a leisure activity that screams stodgy, hyperconventional Old Guard?
Sell his soul? Golf is not the devil. Isn't it possible that he golfs because he enjoys it? Unlike basketball, you get some leisurely strolling time. You can talk. You can smoke! And you're outdoors.
There are signs that Obama has been nursing a creeping golf addiction for some time now.
If there's an addiction involved, I bet it's smoking.
He took up the game a little more than a decade ago as a newbie state senator hoping to bond with more rural, conservative colleagues. Next thing you know, he was hooked....
So he actually has something genuine in common with the clinging-to-guns-and-religion crowd. That's horrible to Cottle, who'd like him to play basketball, like a good urban liberal.
Golf is a dying game--on the skids for nearly a decade, according to a 2008 report by the National Golf Foundation. The number of Americans who golf has fallen by some four million.... One observed problem: evolving family dynamics. Men once free to spend all weekend on the links are now expected to help shuttle the kids to soccer, walk the dog, and generally pull their weight on the home front. The first lady may be understanding about her man’s special recreational needs. But does President Obama really want to be associated with a game so antithetical to modern life?
Cottle is really hostile to golf.  She doesn't mention Tiger Woods, but I'm sensing a Nordegrenesque female rage — even though Obama is as uxorious a politician as I've ever seen. Though Cottle presents herself as the modern woman, she's mouthing ancient female complaints. (What is less hip than a "golf widow" cartoon?)

Let the poor man play golf if he's too tired to look cool playing basketball, needs a long walk, and loves his fresh air well-mixed with tobacco smoke. As long as the golf course is close to the White House — leave him alone!

44 comments:

JAL said...

Is this a defense?

Are you in the clear?

Henry said...

But does President Obama really want to be associated with a game so antithetical to modern life?

Maybe he plays World of Warcraft under a pseudonym, but who would know? Maybe that's why he's not getting enough sleep.

I think what gets Cottle really pissed is that Obama has opened himself up to a kind of petty criticism she would prefer to reserve for presidents like Bush.

It is an idiotic charade. The president can be a real, rounded person, but not during any domestic crisis. The president should never be on vacation when a crisis occurs. And during the 48-hour aftermath of a crisis the president must look busy and somber all the time.

traditionalguy said...

Why is she down on the President for acting like a real man? Jack and Bobby and Ted were all into sailing. Now that's an elite sport, with or without the current girlfriends. Golf has lots of players that are lower middle class, but are self controled and enjoy the golf course at cut rates on public courses. It's less expensive than a drug/alcohol habit or even eating out upscale. I expect that Ms Cottle doesn't like football fans either. But U. of Wisconsin fans and President Obama will have to take the bad PR.

David said...

Golf is still largely a mangame. If you are angry at men, you are angry at mangames.

Obama should play all the golf, tennis, basketball, tiddlywinks, bowling (maybe not) and other games he wants. He's the damn President. This is one of the perks, like Eisenhower at Augusta or Bush at Camp David and the Ranch.

Obama works hard. It's how effectively he works that is the issue.

miller said...

To me, it's not that he plays golf while the Titanic sinks.

It's that he doesn't have the slightest clue of what he looks like when he comes off the green, makes a statement with no content, and then goes back as if nothing's wrong.

Does he need vacations? Sure.

But for someone who is focused like a laser on America's problems, he sure is verklempft when it comes to communication and nuance.

I almost expected him to say "now watch this drive."

He failed to have a team in place to handle decisions and positioning while he was on vacation. FAIL.

Important CEOs go on vacations all the time. I never get the sense that when Bill Gates went, or Jeff Bezos goes, on vacation that all work stops.

This White House (and by extension this man-child president) goes on vacation and we Americans get the sense that no one is in charge.

But the system is working perfectly.

David said...

By the way, look at the pic in Cottle's article. O is showing a lot of physical flexibility for a man in his late 40's.

So what if golf is elitist? (Arguable, but certainly partially true.)

Let's see. Barack Obama went to Columbia, was President of Harvard Law Review and is now President of the United States. He is a card carrying super alpha member of the American elite. Why pretend otherwise?

Expat(ish) said...

I loved golf, but it is a time consuming game, even if you don't practice.

But you can play cheap - my clubs are original Ping Zings - got them for $200 at a pawn shop. I bought my golf balls from the "used once" bin at Golf Galaxy for $0.75/each. A bucks worth of tees will last you a lifetime. My shoes were two-year-old Nikes for $59 - and they lasted me five years. A good glove is $10 and mine is 4 years old - but I do take care of it. That's really all you need.

The greens fees for our local blue-collar public course is $17.

Except maybe for walking there probably isn't a cheaper per-hour sport.

Lord, basketball is much more expensive - the court time is free and balls last a long time, but you go through shoes fast if you really play. Plus there is that injury thing.

-XC

Florida said...

hahahahah ....

The real purpose of this post is to call Obama "uxorious."

Seems right out of the word verification system.

Meh ... I like it better when you just call him straight out a pussy.

I like it when women say pussy.

It rolls off the tongue all sveltly.

MMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmm.

PatCA said...

To the barricades!
It's the patriarchy!

The '60s are so over, Michelle.

Florida said...

"This White House (and by extension this man-child president) goes on vacation and we Americans get the sense that no one is in charge."

Funny ... I get that sense when he's in the White House.

miller said...

Man-child President is another of those Americans who think they're worthy of ruling other Americans.

I prefer Presidents with a bit of humility about their selection by the electorate rather than an arrogancy about their supremacy.

Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Obama golfs while America is threatened.

He might want to find something to do that smacks a little less of goofing off.

vbspurs said...

I used to play golf avidly, after I emigrated from England (note, though there are many women who play in Britain, there is much more animosity towards women golfers there, than in America).

And believe me when I tell you, there can be no greater golf-hating group that I have dealt with, than working class Brits. It's far more visceral than can be imagined by Miss Cottle -- at heart, it's about not having access to public golf courts, which Americans bypass due to a more egalitarian social system, and the wide expanse of land. Nevertheless, you can feel whiffs of this attitude in Michelle Cottle's article.

Interestingly, I didn't like golf when I was growing up. To me, though my grandmother was a scratch lady golfer, it seemed very boring. Then you start playing it, and I swear to you, it's like a veil lifts from your eyes.

Maybe this is what Cottle minds. She has had the veil lifted from her eyes a little about Obama, and she is suddenly nonplussed about the vision.

Could Obama be more white than black, more Dunham, than Obama?

Is this why he plays b-ball not with working-class hero breathable tees, but with nerdy sweatpants?

Is this why he looks like Poindexter, and not a cool brotha on a bike?

OH NOES! CRIES COTTLE. I VOTED FOR A BLACK MAN AND WOKE UP TO FIND RICK SANTORUM IN MY BED!

Cheers,
Victoria

The Ghost said...

I for one would love to play a couple of rounds of golf with Obama. No cameras no press no "assistants". You will learn alot about a person on the golf course. Does he ever move his ball ? How many mulligans does he take ? (correct answer 0) Does he always manage to miscount his score ? Will he call a penalty on himself or does he require you to make the call for him ? Does he concede putts or does he make you putt everything out ? (nothing wrong with that, it shows me a mans ruthlessness)
Golf draws many kinds of competitors, 2 kinds of players being the gentlemen who understands the game is about playing yourself and the blowhard showoff that realizes the nature of the game allows for less than honorable advantage taking to occur.

miller said...

The problem with ruling with the "never let a crisis go to waste" mentality is that soon people expect you to respond to crises with the urgent immediacy of the now.

He made this bed; he can sleep in it.

vbspurs said...

Err, golf courses, not courts. But then, I was always a tennis player.

Scott M said...

Cottle must love Hugo Chavez. Not that it would be much a stretch to assume so.

Gabriel Hanna said...

There are any number of things I criticize Obama for, but playing golf is not one of them.

I thought it was stupid when people criticized Bush for playing golf, and I think it's stupid to criticize Obama for it.

Scott M said...

I guess a better question than...

Why would a leader vowing to shake up Washington--to alter the very nature of politics--sell his soul to a leisure activity that screams stodgy, hyperconventional Old Guard? ...is why do you fucking care one way or another?

Seriously. She's got a bonafide boner for hating golf apparently. It's one thing to bitch at the guy because he plays golf and wax traitorous about it being the game of the unholy, but it's quite another to try and point out how stupid it is to play by citing declining golf stats.

vbspurs said...

The Ghost, I deleted that very same thing about "you can learn a lot about a person playing golf" in my previous post. I didn't want to muddy my point -- but the fact is, that IS the point.

You learn a lot about people when they the margin of error is so small. And forget it if they're really competitive people, like politicians are. Those are the biggest cheaters.

I don't like mulligans, and I am not a boomer. Even from the ladies tees' I can't grip and rip it more than 125 yds. But I am dead straight, and often finish at par for the hole, after the guy who had first honour and boomed it 250 yds takes a two over.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

I thought it was stupid when people criticized Bush for playing golf, and I think it's stupid to criticize Obama for it.

But Gabriel, she's not really criticising Obama for playing golf, but for choosing the game of the white man, and the rich white man at that.

She would be equally non-plussed and would scramble to find declining NHL viewership numbers, if Obama had as his favourite past time, playing ice hockey.

Ronnie Schreiber said...

Men once free to spend all weekend on the links are now expected to help shuttle the kids to soccer, walk the dog, and generally pull their weight on the home front.

What misandrist crap! Most of the women who complain that men don't do anything around the home tend not to treat cutting the grass, working on the car, taking out the garbage, fixing and installing appliances, home repairs, etc. etc. to be "home front" activities. If a man does the laundry, he'll be told he doesn't fold things right, and rather than recognize his contribution of getting the stuff in and out of the washer/dryer, she'll complain about the work he "made" her do.

Besides, even among the most avid golfers, hardly anyone plays more than one round a day. It takes about 3 hours to play a round of golf. Let's say that a weekend goes from 6PM Friday to midnight Sunday night. If hubby plays golf on both Saturday and Sunday, and "spend(s) all weekend" on the links, that means he's spent 1/9 of the weekend playing golf.

My guess is that plenty of women spend more than 6 hours a weekend on their own favorite activities like shopping or telling other people what to do.

Just remember, his golf takes him away from her and "their" family, but her yoga, tai chi and cooking classes are essential for her balance and well being.

Henry said...

It would be really cool if Obama played ice hockey.

I'm reminded of this Peanuts Comic (which scouldn't be run today).

Drew W said...

Honestly, this Cottle piece is such an unintentional parody of old-school white liberal orthodoxy that she really should've stuck it in the proverbial drawer, given herself a good night's sleep, and then taken a fresh look at it the next morning. I bet that if she'd done that, she would have realized what a magnificent fool she was making of herself, and in the pages of the New Republic no less. (Now as to the judgment of her editorial higher-ups . . . what can you say?)

The true question is not whether or not Obama plays golf, but does he decorate his home with all those awful golf tchatchkes? If it's revealed that he's stuffed the White House with golf-themed coasters, bath towels, highball glasses, welcome mats, throw pillows and -- my favorite -- laquered plaques embossed with clever phrases about how frustrating the game is . . . then I think a case can be made for impeachment.

vbspurs said...

(which scouldn't be run today).

For political correctness, as much as for the fact that after Donald Brashear and Peter Worrell, it's not true anymore. :)

vbspurs said...

P.S.: I love hockey. I love golf. I love tennis. And I love being in the pool.

...I couldn't be whiter if I tried, how depressing.

MadisonMan said...

How was Cliff's year, Professor?

One of my nephews got a big promotion at work. So now he'll have to buy a new suit. I was happy to hear about his new job because I actually understand what he does now -- he is the interface between his company and stock analysts at various Mutual Fund-type things.

Ron said...


I don't like mulligans, and I am not a boomer. Even from the ladies tees' I can't grip and rip it more than 125 yds. But I am dead straight, and often finish at par for the hole, after the guy who had first honour and boomed it 250 yds takes a two over.


I loved this Vic...I could hear you saying it aloud!

Scott M said...

I caddied for years so I've got real reasons to hate golf. As far as actually playing it, I can hit the damned thing a ton, but I have about as much control as Tiger Woods at an AVN ceremony.

edutcher said...

Dubya played golf, therefore, Bambi is selling out because he plays it. There are better reasons to dislike the guy, but she'd be outing herself if she said, "Commies don't play golf!".

naturalfake said...

Now the true story of the press conference can finally be told:

GOLFOCALYPSE NOW!

http://naturalfake.wordpress.com/2009/12/29/golfocalypse-now/

Bob From Ohio said...

"My guess is that plenty of women spend more than 6 hours a weekend on their own favorite activities like shopping or telling other people what to do."

Lotta women don't like to shop.

Big Mike said...

If she's complaining that Obama unwinds with strenuous physical activities (though how strenuous golf is when compared with midnight basketball is debatable) then Cottle doesn't get menfolks.

If she's complaining that at a time when we the people of the United States are feeling a mixture of concerned, frightened, and downright angry at Muslim terrorism on Christmas day he would have been wise to quietly cancel his tee time, then, yeah, she's got a point.

Expat(ish) said...

@vbspurs: "it seemed very boring. Then you start playing it, and I swear to you, it's like a veil lifts from your eyes. "

That is so true. Like the first time you think: "Ok, a good closed face nine and it should be on the green." And it is on the green.

I used to say that you got one really good "on purpose" shot per nine. And that is why you come back.

-XC

TMink said...

I want our president to play lots of golf. It builds character.

Trey

JohnSteele said...

Golf is a folk game. If you doubt that, go to your local muni, plunk down your greens fees, and head out with whatever group the starter matches you with. You'll find all kinds of nice, ordinary people who are (mostly) enjoying a few hours of walking around. Yes, in the US the game is associated with the country club crowd, but the *game* isn't snobby. The game is fun and egalitarian.

The Elder said...

Wow! A woman who defends a man for playing golf. I'm in love!!!!

Oh. Hold it. You already married my brother didn't you?

Well, I'll just point out the post to my wife and tell her what a wonderful wife Laurence found.

(That's Meade to everyone here.)

Paul Ciotti said...

"Lotta women don't like to shop."

I think I met her once.

Big Mike said...

Golf builds character? I don't get what's character-building about balancing a little, defenseless, white ball on a something that looks like a wooden nail, swinging a big, heavy club at it, saying "aw shit," then repeating about 100 or so more times.

vbspurs said...

That is so true. Like the first time you think: "Ok, a good closed face nine and it should be on the green." And it is on the green.

It is (oddly enough!) an approach shot to the green which started my addiction to golf. In the first month of playing golf, I was on the golf course and about 5 feet away from the green. I decided to go not with a loft wedge, or God forbid a Texas wedge, but just a regular semi-rusty one I had bought second-hand. I gave it a full swing, and the moment the blade hit that Titleist ball with a crisp shot it ARC'ED beautifully on the green, fell within 2 inches of the hole, and fell in. It caught me totally by surprise -- and I whooped like a red indian in surprise, and...this is hard to explain to non-golfers...deep gratefulness.

I suppose the high is that finally you did something right, after hundreds of shots. No one else had a hand in your perfection -- it was all down to you, your skill and practise at that moment.

Golf massages ones ego, and no wonder type A personalities, and big headed people like Clinton and Obama (and me) like playing it.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

Heh, thanks Ron! :)

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

Golf builds character?

It teaches you about disappointment more often than not, because the margin of perfection is so small. It allows you to be gracious to others, as well as to learn how to take your time and be considerate to others behind you, around you. It's a great game when you're a bit older -- because it reminds you you're still physical enough to matter.

TMink said...

Real golf, high golf if you will, depends on scrupulous honesty. It is a really fun game to wager on as well.

My father and I played golf for 5 of his last 8 years. We would wager dinars, the curency of Iraq, which was at the time worth about a segment of Charmin.

Kirk Parker said...

"We would wager dinars"

That's totally fantastic--except, where did you get them to pay off the winner?

Don said...

My guess is you can't play pickup basketball with, for instance, Gordon Brown or Hu Jintao without risking an international incident when his hip breaks.

I mean, if Hu Jintao gets a step on you under the basket, are you going to *not* foul him? Not in front of the Russians!

Just be glad he's not trying to do Judo on canned tiger hunts with Putin.