'He’s not Jimmy Carter. He’s Tiger Woods'
That issue also marks the end of Obama as a political superman (or God, if you're Evan Thomas); it was all downhill for him afterwards; Scott Brown would capture "Ted Kennedy's seat" in January of 2010, despite Obama campaigning for his opposition; the Tea Party would help the GOP retake Congress the following November, and Obama's poll numbers have continued to drift continually southward, as the deficit and over-regulation engulfs any hope of an economic recovery.
But before the levee broke, Friedman offered advice to both Tiger and Obama. For the latter man, Friedman suggested:
[Tiger Woods demonstrates] “a level of intimidation so complete, I cannot think of a parallel in any other sport. It is earned not just by winning, but by demeanor: polite, gentlemanly toward opponents, though totally focused on doing everything to win all the time.
President Obama could use some of that. It is not that he lacks toughness. But he is not yet intimidating. You have to win some diplomatic or political “majors” to have that authority. Winning passage of universal health care? That is like winning a Masters and a U.S. Open in the same year. Taking out Osama bin Laden? Another huge victory.
In politics, success breeds authority, and authority breeds more success. Until Obama earns that Tiger-like aura of intimidation, though, he will get tested—as much by Democrats as by Republicans. Once those points go up on the board, he will be playing like a guy with-19 majors, and Oval Office visitors will be a little less willing to say “no.”
Ironically, Obama scored both of the items listed above, but they ended up being as owned-goals, to mix sports metaphors. ObamaCare has so frightened and confused the business world, it's left them virtually paralyzed, afraid to hire or expand due to the enormous regulatory uncertainty. And ask George H.W. Bush how neutralizing a famous Middle East terrorist helped make a second term a slam-dunk. The right understands that killing OBL was accomplished via the systems and intelligence gathering that the previous administration put into place -- which Obama and the media derided all the way. A third of the left, including both one actor turned would be politician, and one of Obama's former "czars," think that Osama had nothing to do with 9/11.
For Woods, Friedman offered this advice as to what the legendary golfer could learn from the president:
Tiger has started intimidating everyone these days: opponents, officials, even fans. [Not to mention the media -- Ed] He is probably the greatest golfer of all time. And when I think of the pressures he faces in public life, and how well he generally comports himself, I feel like this is just nitpicking. He is a great credit to his sport and to his parents. But nitpicking comes with being president. And Tiger is the president of golf. He represents himself, and the game, and the hopes of millions of people. It's a fine line—but I am sure that a day hanging with Obama, seeing how he handles all those pressures, would put Tiger on the right side of it.
Because the president has certainly been grace under pressure in recent weeks.
In retrospect, perhaps the most prescient suggestion for Obama in the now anti-classic issue of Golf Digest came from Joe Queenan, on "The Danger of Looking Ridiculous," perhaps intuitively sensing the train wreck to come:
By all accounts, President Obama loves golf but it does not love him back. To date, he has not let the public see much of him in action on the course. Tiger would probably tell him to keep it that way. Tiger doesn't appear on "Dancing With the Stars." Tiger doesn't sing in public. Tiger doesn't appear on talk shows with Janeane Garofalo. Tiger never does anything that would make him look ridiculous. The President of the United States needs to do the same. After all, Jimmy Carter never recovered from that incident with the killer rabbit. Thomas Dewey's loss to Harry Truman in the 1948 election might have been because Dewey was somehow cajoled by supporters into donning a pirate's hat.
Obama seems to get all this. Most Americans do not want to see the president fail. They certainly don't want to see him fall at golf. For the sake of all of us -- lest our enemies use the president's lack of links prowess against him -- Obama should keep his game far, far away from the eyes of prying photographers. What we can't see can't hurt us. Much less him.
The best advice the president never took.