Obama and Boehner are going to hit the links today. These two guys have a hard time getting together to deal with mammoth issues that threaten the future of America, but somehow five hours on a golf course is doable. Of course, many will rationalize the event as an opportunity for the two leaders to bond and set the stage for more cooperation down the road. Those people do not understand golf.
Boehner is a stick, a very good golfer. He didn’t start playing until he was in his 30’s, but he attacked the game once he got addicted. He has always been an accomplished athlete. His handicap is now under 10, some report as low as 6.3. He is an aggressive, committed golfer. In 2006, he played over 100 rounds. He doesn’t play at that pace today, but the game is still a priority in his busy life.
Obama, at best, is a mediocre golfer. In fact, he may be a bona fide hacker. He never discusses his scores, but some observers estimate his handicap to be at least 17, perhaps much higher. There is little doubt that he’s trying hard to become a real golfer; he has played over 70 rounds since being elected President. That’s nearly the equivalent of spending two and one-half months of his Presidency on the golf course. It’s a scary thought. But, as hard as he tries, there’s no evidence to suggest that the President has the mindset, the rhythm, or the tempo to become a good golfer.
So what happens on a golf course when you pit an aggressive low handicapper against a hacker with an ego that’s bigger than the course, all in the spirit of “let’s get to know each other”? Odds are Boehner will outdrive Obama on every hole. Obama will be outmatched on nearly every shot. Obama will keep swinging harder at his miss hits, while Boehner smoothly makes solid contact. Short putts will be a stress point for Obama and a nonevent for Boehner. In short, Obama will get his ass kicked by a much older man who has real political power, but nothing comparable to the loser in this event.
Of course, all along the way Boehner will be polite and differential, constantly complementing the President on any shot that isn’t objectively horrible. Boehner may even blow a few shots, just to lighten things up. It will appear as if the two are enjoying each others’ company and are not really hung up on the quality of the golf. The press will report the event as a success, perhaps referencing Boehner’s superior ability without elaborating on the drubbing. But Obama and Boehner, both aggressive men, will know the truth and will dwell on the experience. That’s golf.
What will be the impact of this event? That’s the scary part. Famous golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez said it best, “We must always be humble in victory and cocky in losing.” As we look ahead at the tough issues that must be sorted out over the next few months, the last thing we need now is a humbler Boehner and a cockier Obama.
June 18, 2011