So golf is in the news a lot lately owing to Speaker of the House John Boehner's success in goading the President of the United States into meeting for a so-called political summit on the links. The "summit" has, at this writing, already taken place. Nothing momentous was decided, but apparently Boehner won. I hope they had a nice conversation and all that, but I have at least two related quarrels about this match-up.
First, why does the President once again allow himself to be put into the weaker position? We all know that Mr. Boehner is a really good golfer and that Obama isn't. And, of course, none of this really matters, but to the extent it matters at all, it simply makes the President look worse. I mean really, can you imagine what would happen if they played one-on-one basketball? It would be a total rout; Boehner wouldn't have a chance. So why no basketball? Partly because the President truly is such a gentleman that he doesn't want to let someone even as puerile as Boehner feel bad. Such a match-up, we and the President imagine, would surely result in tearful humiliation for Boehner. Something Obama, the prince of civility, with all good but sometimes misguided intention, cannot countenance.
But don't you think it's also true that this little summit is meant to send a message about who really matters in America today? It's not the kind of person who plays basketball, who tends to be a person of color, who is poor and who is young. Nope, we embrace the golfers, rich, sheltered, older men with plenty of time on their hands. If you think this is meaningless symbolism, I would invite you to think again. It speaks volumes about who matters these days in this country and who doesn't.