Why Golf Is Obama’s New Favorite Sport

On December 6, 2009, in Articles, Golf, Humor, by Baller-in-Chief

Because thanks to Tiger Woods, Obama’s Afghanistan policy was pushed to the back up role in the news rotation for a lot of Americans last week.

(By Colin Orcutt for The Obama Presidency Blog at City University of New York School of Journalism)

So we know that Obama is the “sports president.” He’s been to a Wizards game, aired a video to kick off Monday Night Football, taken in an Oregon State Beavers basketball game (wifey’s brother coaches the guys team there)–he even went to a George Washington University men’s basketball game (insert a Guantanamo joke here at your own discretion). He’s definitely a hoops and football fan (he hosted a Super Bowl party after his inauguration). But I don’t believe he’s been to any hockey or baseball games yet. And certainly not any golf.

But, if the president has any good sense, he’ll book his tickets now for the next tournament Tiger Woods is playing in, and then every one following.

Because thanks to Tiger Woods, Obama’s Afghanistan policy was pushed to the back up role in the news rotation for a lot of Americans last week, replaced instead with the latest gossipy developments about Woods’ extramarital affairs.

Andy Borowitz wrote a sarcastic post about this for Huffington Post’s humor section. And Frank Rich picked up on it in his most recent Op-Ed:

As long as our wars remain sacrifice-free, safely buried in the back pages behind Tiger Woods and reality television stunts, he’ll be able to pursue [the bet he made about Afghanistan].

The reality is, there has been plenty of discourse about Obama’s decision to surge 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan–a good many of the New York Times opinion writers have weighed in at this point–but we’re in an updated news model now. While the Afghanistan speech coverage and reaction may be out there, in this updated model, it’s not finding its way to me.

As any good Jeff Jarvis disciple will tell you, with the advent of Facebook, Twitter and the like, stories and news make their way to the reader. And so, less and less readers make their way to the stories. I personally haven’t checked my Google Reader in weeks; it used to be a daily occurrence (then again, so did sleep, so perhaps my normalcy level isn’t the best standard at this point).

Last week, one of the people I’m following on Twitter tweeted that excess of Tiger Woods updates he’d received from CNN led him to unsubscribe from their feed. I read no such complaints about Afghanistan social network traffic.

You could argue that it’s a reflection of the demographic that uses social networking perhaps, but I find that the demographic is expanding and argument is starting to show gray hairs.

What I think really happened is that Tiger Woods spared Obama some short-term scrutiny. I am not saying I either agree or disagree with his decision, but nothing happens in the presidency anymore that doesn’t garner at least a dull roar and a tea party. Whatever Obama had decided, there would have been loud voiced naysayers. Woods muted their effect.

And, since it will be hard to measure the results of Obama’s plan anytime soon, you could argue that by averting some of the public reaction, perhaps Woods improved Obama’s chance at a re-election bid. A bit of a stretch perhaps, but not entirely.

Either way, I firmly believe that some Obama staffers were at least a little happy with the timing of Woods’ accident. And if next week Woods is suddenly bestowed the title of “Distraction Czar,” (also known as the social secretary) remember, you heard it here first.

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