Thursday, August 25, 2011
Those who pinned their hopes and dreams-- but not their good judgment-- on Barack Obama are now dividing into two camps.
There are the loyalists, the head-in-the-sand true believers, like Tom Friedman, and then there are the hopeful realists like Mort Zuckerman.
Friedman happily recites Democratic talking points, blaming Republicans for everything and declaring that Obama’s Grand Bargain on the budget will get us out of our economic misery.
For Friedman Obama is like Tiger Woods… a great golfer who has lost his swing.
Zuckerman sounds like far less of a satrap than Friedman. Not that it requires too much effort. He sees a “competency crisis,” an increased public awareness that the president in whom he and Friedman pinned their hopes is simply not up to the job.
But then, Zuckerman shares his deepest longings: “Like many Americans who supported him, I long for a triple-A president to run a triple-A country.” Does he know that Obama will never by that president? It's not too clear that he does.
Zuckerman would do better to explain how he managed to get duped by Barack Obama.
Considering that he has been consistently critical of Obama, it makes no sense for him to cling to his hope that Obama will become a AAA president.
While Friedman will support Obama enthusiastically, Zuckerman is sounding like someone who might also vote for him again. Old longings die hard.
Both men seem to agree that the Republican candidates are so bad that they will vote for someone who has failed to fulfill their hopes and dreams.
Back to the texts.
Friedman is correct to draw a lesson from match play golf: it’s better to play to win than to play not to lose.
Playing to win involves attacking the course. Playing not to lose involves being afraid of making a mistake. We all know, or we all should know, that the golfer who is afraid of the course will be defeated by it.
Heaven knows what Tom Friedman is smoking, but the Tiger Woods analogy strikes me as especially lame, even for him. It moves beyond wishful thinking into blind faith.
In his words: “Obama is smart, decent and tough, with exactly the right instincts about where the country needs to go. He has accomplished a lot more than he’s gotten credit for — with an opposition dedicated to making him fail. But lately he is seriously off his game. He’s not Jimmy Carter. He’s Tiger Woods — a natural who’s lost his swing. He has so many different swing thoughts in his head, so many people whispering in his ear about what the polls say and how he needs to position himself to get re-elected, that he has lost all his natural instincts for the game. He needs to get back to basics.”
We are all happy to know that Tom Friedman possesses advanced mind-reading skills. He knows exactly what is going on in Obama’s head.
You cannot with any seriousness compare a political hack like Barack Obama to one of the greatest golfers in history.
Tiger Woods gained his reputation and stature by performing at the highest level over and over again. Woods won championship after championship; he made a fortune from golf and endorsements.
In the world of golf Tiger Woods was the real deal.
Compared to Woods, Obama is a poser, a fake, a politician who managed, with the help of the media, to trick the country into taking him for something he is not… a great leader, a great communicator, a man who had so much talent and so much brilliance that his inexperience would not matter.
We should keep in mind, however, that Obama saved Friedman from the ultimate horror: Vice President Palin.
Friedman believes that Obama has accomplished a lot more than he has been given credit for. Like what? A stimulus that has had no appreciable impact on unemployment. A health care bill that the majority of the nation does not want. A massive increase in the amount of job killing government regulations.
He bemoans the fact that the opposition party seems to want Obama to fail. Did the Democratic opposition and its media enablers do everything in its power to make George Bush fail?
A good political consultant like Friedman will spin it all in Obama’s favor, but the nation seems not to have seen any real benefits from Obama’s leadership. You cannot be a great leader if no one is following.
A mere 26% of the nation approve of his performance on the economy.
When Tiger Woods had his swing, he did not need an army of apologists to explain away his failures.
Compare Friedman’s absurd comparison of Obama and Tiger Woods with Zuckerman’s more judicious evaluation: “Many voters who supported him are no longer elated by the historic novelty of his candidacy and presidency. They hoped for a president who would be effective. Remember ‘Yes We Can‘? Now many of his sharpest critics are his former supporters. Witness Bill Broyles, a one-time admirer who recently wrote in Newsweek that ‘Americans aren't inspired by well-meaning weakness.’ The president who first inspired with great speeches on red and blue America now seems to lack the ability to communicate any sense of resolve for a program, or any realization of the urgency of what might befall us.”
Yet, no Tom Friedman column would be complete without something that is completely fatuous.
As if the analogy of Obama and Tiger Woods were not bad enough, Friedman offers Obama some advice. Not based on practical experience but on a movie he once saw.
In his words: “Meanwhile, Mr. President, on a rainy day, rent the movie ‘Tin Cup.’ There is a great scene where Dr. Molly Griswold is trying to help Roy ‘Tin Cup‘ McAvoy, the golf pro, rediscover his swing — and himself. She finally tells him: ‘Roy ... don’t try to be cool or smooth or whatever; just be honest and take a risk. And you know what, whatever happens, if you act from the heart, you can’t make a mistake.’”
Yes, indeed. Tom Friedman thinks that the solution is: therapy!
And which piece of advanced psychobabble does Friedman offer Obama: “act from the heart.” In the world of therapy this is what passes for wisdom.
After all, it works in the movie. Why, Tom Friedman asks, would it not work in reality?
Of course, movies are fictions. Shouldn‘t we have gotten to the point where we know that make-believe is not real?
If it was all that easy, then a great golfer like Tiger Woods, who can certainly afford all of the world’s therapy, would have gotten his swing back a long time ago.
Since Friedman wants us to think about the tin cup, why not also think about the Tin Man. When we do we recall a song he sang in the Wizard of Oz. Where the scarecrow had sung a song called, “If I Only Had a Brain,” the Tin Man’s version is: “If I Only Had a Heart.”
Posted by Stuart Schneiderman at 9:05 AM