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Obama & Tiger: Success, Race, and Failure December 17, 2009

Filed under: Single Sisters On... — peyso @ 10:39 am

I’ve recently been a bit swamped w/ work and waiting on these law school apps. So this entry comes from our friends over at Its a topic that I personally wanted to discuss for sometime now but she discussed it in a way that I could never do. The original post is here:

“I was waiting for this…

I was waiting for someone bold enough, brave enough, ridiculous enough to tie the Tiger Woods “scandal” to President Barack Obama. It’s too easy. I was waiting for someone to think, “two light-skinned, half-black, attractive, rich, powerful men. There has got to be a way!” I held my breath in prayer hoping there was no “journalist” alive who would tie these two together. Alas, there is one.

Today the Huffington Post published an article by Lisa Solod Warren entitled “Two Black Role Models Done In by Hubris”. This article could also be called “One Woman Intent on Linking Two Unrelated People”.

Her argument made about as much sense as someone who believes I should agree with her simply because our names are similar.

What Lisa and I probably agree on is that entertainment journalist exhausted of Brangelina, Kanye West, Khloe Kardashian, and Chris Brown/Rihanna really should send a bouquet of flowers to Tiger Woods, thanking him for saving their jobs in this recession.  For the past three weeks Tiger has served as constant fodder for tabloids, entertainment TV shows and gossip websites. The coverage has been incessant and public opinion split down the middle.

Lisa saw an opportunity: As more 20-something  White cocktail waitresses are linked to Tiger Woods every day, support for him is waning. Why not maximize on this and try to link unsuspecting people’s negative feelings about Tiger Woods to any negative feelings about politics and by extension President Obama? It’s the perfect plan (one that makes no sense), but Lisa is up to the task as her article  – in block quotes — displays:

In the past few weeks, the two most famous and arguably most successful black men in America have taken a huge fall. It has become clear that both pro golfer Tiger Woods, just named Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press, and the American president, Barack Obama, the first black person to lead the country, suffer from a surfeit of hubris which has finally caught up with them. If both men somehow thought they were untouchable, they have been put to right. Both have crashed to earth and it may well be true that they can never recover their earlier status again.


How did Barack Obama and Tiger Woods even end up in the same sentence?

Did Obama cheat on his wife? No.

Does Tiger Woods dabble in politics at all? No.

Did Barack Obama take an “indefinite break” from his job amid his face being plastered on every tabloid known to men? No.

Was Tiger Woods even considered African-American before this scandal? No.

So where did this connection come from?

While Woods’ “indiscretions” affect only himself and his family, he has felt the sting of the media invasion and a permanent loss of privacy. His reputation as sport’s good family guy is gone. For Barack Obama the honeymoon is really over, even those who wanted to give him a chance are getting tired of what is not getting done, what was promised and reneged on. There is disappointment enough in both of them.

Still not seeing a connection.

It is tragic when an icon falls. When a black icon stumbles the tragedy seems doubly problematic. Mike Tyson, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jackson were all at the tops of their fields before revelations that made them less palatable as heroes and less of a role model for young black men. They have all been partially rehabilitated but not without a huge cost.

A black icon stumbling is doubly problematic for who? For the Black people who don’t see themselves in the few famous Black faces? Or the White people who demand one person represent the entire race?

Did she really group President Barack Obama who is trying to gain support for highly controversial political moves with Mike Tyson (who has said his favorite punch was thrown at ex-girlfriend Robin Givens when he made her head bounce off one wall and hit another), Magic Johnson (who cheated on his wife and thus contracted HIV) and Michael Jackson (who was accused of molesting young boys)?! I see no connection here. These “black icons” fall was a result of personal failures.  What personal failure has Barack Obama had? If the answer is “none”, then how does he fit in this list? He doesn’t.

And now while the news if full of Tiger Woods’ penchant for tawdry moments with women who can’t hold a candle to the physical beauty of his wife, the information we get on Obama, while far less salacious, is even more disillusioning. The expectations of real change that had people in tears a little over a year have been so thoroughly dashed that too many of his supporters feel betrayed by their naiveté; they feel, as I do, almost foolish for believing that the status quo could really be kicked out the door. Is it even possible for our national landscape to change? Can we really progress from a country of individuals all looking for their stake to a country that actually has the notion that a stake for everyone means more for all? Having worked for weeks and months for Obama, having written glowingly about his oratory skills and his ability to gather even the disenfranchised together, as well as capture that ephemeral youth vote, I stood at rallies and allowed myself that enormous surge of hope that connected me with the rest of the country. But what was our choice?

Even though many voted for Obama simply out of fury with the policies of the last eight years, there were more who truly put their faith in him that he could, with a majority vote and a majority in Congress, really get so many of the things done that the Democrats had been promising to do for years.

The disillusionment that comes with Tiger Woods is not even worth comparing to any that would relate to the President. So what if some golfer I’ve never actually seen play on TV (because I don’t watch golf), cheated on his wife whom I’ve never heard of. I’ve got more drama in my immediate family. The fascination and interest is real, the disillusionment would mean that expectations for Tiger Woods were there in the first place. They weren’t.

Furthermore, is Obama’s term over? Anyone who is “betrayed by their naiveté” should feel doubly ridiculous for thinking the change they voted for would come overnight. Status quo is not “kicked out of the door” like a weak, stray cat. Status quo has to be rallied against, systems have to be put in place to combat it, people have to put in work. Status quo will remain the “status quo” if people are too lazy to stick around for the entire fight.  For all intents and purposes, Obama just got into office. I’m not blaming everything on Bush, but we are simply not the same country we were eight years ago. It’s going to take more than a winning smile and clever speech to make a change. I’m convinced Obama knows that, clearly women like Lisa do not and whose fault is that? Her own.

Instead, one of our finest thinkers has both compromised himself and allowed his party to also do so– so much now that I find it almost impossible to listen to another news story about another great idea shot down by the Republicans and their panderers. The truth is that a couple of people–and I am not even sure, always who they are–are running our country and one of them is not our elected president. In a way we might as well have a dictator with his small cabal around him so little does the public desire get recognized. Even though a huge majority of Americans want health reform by all facts and polls, Republican leaders have gone on record saying the Democrats are out of touch with what “real Americans” want. And the Democrats, with a few exceptions, have been so mealy-mouthed that they haven’t even talked back.

The fact that the President wants to make changes and adjustments to get the healthcare reform passed speaks to exactly the man he was during the election — someone who wanted to unite people instead of divide people along political lines. Besides, the “real America” bit didn’t work during the election and it’s not working now. Unfortunately, we are a nation divided by our politics. Karl Rove and his 50-plus-one strategy encouraged and solidified that to the point where people like Lisa, who probably doesn’t even realize it, demand that divide stay in place. Obama doesn’t want to disenfranchise half the country with his politics. That was a Karl Rove tactic. Like it or not, there are still Republicans and Independents in this country who count too. Thank God Obama isn’t making moves based on polls. Before the Iowa primary, “the polls” said a Black man would never be president. “The polls” were wrong.

Both men are of mixed race. Yet the majority of the country, including black Americans, sees them as black. That’s not a bad thing. Except when such men of intelligence and talent, men who have such influence and power, can’t help but succumb to the age old twins of greed and power.

First of all, Tiger Woods couldn’t find the Black community with a state-of-the-art GPS. “Black Americans” hardly embrace him as black man. We didn’t see Tiger’s affair as a negative mark against the whole race.  Apparently she did. And it’s a bad thing that he is black and with influence and power and may have succumbed to greed and power? Excuse me? In other words: because he’s black he better be perfect?

Although each has risen from ordinary beginnings to be at the top of their field but now things don’t look so good for either of them. Woods income is as tied to endorsements as it is to his talent. And Obama is so caught up in party donations and the power that those who donate have, he can’t allow himself or his party to do anything to thwart those donations. If Woods had been smart he would have kept his head down, played golf and taken care of his beautiful family instead of publicly destroying them. If Obama had enacted campaign reform as the first order of business real change could well have happened. But money and fame go to the head and any other result seems to be a fairy tale, a dream, an impossibility. Somehow money corrupts the moral compass, whether for one’s self or one’s party.

Woods’ income is tied to his endorsements but the man is a multi-millionaire. If every one of his advertising companies (including Nike and Tag Heuer who have determined to stick with him) dropped him, I don’t think he’s going to be on the streets of LA looking for a handout. Things may not “look so good” for Tiger, but no matter what, I’m sure financially he’s looking a whole lot better than 99% of the rest of the country. In Tiger’s case I don’t think money corrupted his moral compass, money and fame only magnified what was clearly already there. Lesser men cheat on their wives every day.

I feel weird leaping to Barack Obama on this, but Lisa did so I guess I must. In truth, “Black America” didn’t even embrace Obama as a black man until just after he won Iowa. And President Obama has another three years in office during this term. I don’t see him taking an indefinite break from being President and I don’t see how money corrupted his moral compass. Healthcare reform is a moral issue now?

What the people who worked and voted for Barack Obama wanted to see was a man who would stand up for principle and the ideals he spoke so stunningly of while campaigning. What those who were shocked at Woods’ dalliances wanted to believe was that the first black man to be famous for a sport other than basketball or football was really who he appeared he was.

Tiger Woods is the first black man famous for a sport other than basketball or football? What happened to Jackie Robinson? Joe Louis? Jesse Owens? Muhammad Ali? Bo Jackson? George Foreman? Sugar Ray Robinson? Lee Elder (the FIRST black man to play golf in an previously all-White Masters Tournament). And even if we want to wipe out the entire history of Black people and make Tiger Woods the first ever, he is exactly who he appeared to be: a golfer.

Woods remains an amazing golfer and athlete but his tumble to earth by hubris makes him far more human than god, and the entanglements that his weakness have brought may in fact undermine his game forever.

Was it Tiger’s pride that made him fall or his base instinct of wanting sex at any cost? She’s right, Tiger is far more human than God. Isn’t that a relief?

And Obama remains a brilliant thinker, an orator who can rally the masses, a supremely educated man and, by all accounts a dedicated husband and father. But he has been unable to fight the system he said he wanted to fight. He has been unable to effect real, honest-to-goodness change. In the spirit of reconciliation instead of leadership, he has slipped and fallen on the battlefield of politics. All we can hope is that he can stand up again, soon, and take charge.

And this article remains just an opportunity for Lisa to kick one person while he is already down (Tiger Woods) and tie a string to another man however loose (Barack Obama) in order to criticize him by any means necessary. All I can hope is that no one agrees with her quantum leap of logic.

I am careful to say something is about race when it isn’t, but her argument clearly is all about these two men being “black”. Lisa Solod Warren has a lot of nerve blatantly bringing race into something that has nothing to do with race. At all. In either case. Her prejudice is the most transparent of any I’ve seen printed in a while.

It is incredible to me that a contributor for a reputable news and blog organization like the Huffington Post would spew this type of faulty reasoning into the internet world and try to pass it off on readers like we are idiots. Lisa is in need of a Black history lesson and a therapy session of why she thinks all black men who do anything wrong are overcome by pride.

Instead of drawing similarities between two wholly unrelated people, maybe Lisa needs to contemplate why she can’t mentally separate two completely different situations simply because the two men involved share the same skin color.

The only thing these two men have ever had in common is that they both have transcended traditional assumptions about race in American culture, or so we thought. Lisa’s article just reminds us how far we haven’t come in “post-racial” America. To let Lisa tell it:  no matter what a black man accomplishes, he is one misstep from being just another black man effing up. A complete and total failure.

Some things never change.


2 Responses to “Obama & Tiger: Success, Race, and Failure”

  1. LP Says:

    That writer is a certifiable idiot. I am so tired of people writing articles to illicit knee-jerk reactions that I am not even going to give her that satisfaction.

    Her article is boring and pointless. The End. Next.

    Ugh, those “journalists” irritate me!!!

  2. Sunny Says:

    She shouldn’t have a job as a journalist, she needs to go back to middle school with this dayum opinion paper… The saddest part is, this ignorant thinking actually influences some people.

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