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  • Ohioblog: A Swing State Journal

    Tuesday, September 21, 2004

    What's golf got to do with it? 

    The splendid arrogance of Americans came through loud, white and blue during the Ryder Cup. Golf, national politics, international statesmanship - it doesn't matter: Americans are convinced their way is the way.

    Ask them what Jesus would do - a popular question to get at what is the right thing to do - and they would say: He would do what Americans do.

    I'm not so sure.

    Golf may seem to have little to do with America's foreign policy or its presidential election. Again, I'm not so sure. I think the attitudes are exactly alike.

    Americans go it alone. On the golf course. In making war. In whatever they deem important.

    As you may know (or not, given this is a blog dealing with Ohio's status as a swing state in the president election and not sports), Europe defeated the United States, 18 1/2 to 9 1/2, in the Ryder Cup matches on the Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Township, Mich. Americans had never fared so miserably.

    U.S. Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton attributed his favored team's humiliation to being unable to develop the proper charism to compete successfully against a team filled with men who played not only for themselves but also for one another. The Europeans were a concensus. The Americans were Armies of One.

    ``The U.S. is like the bully in day care who gets sent home with the note that says `doesn't play well with others','' Bud Shaw, columnist for The Plain Dealer concluded.

    Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, the best of the best, went out together and couldn't win. Tiger doesn't like Phil. Phil doesn't like Tiger. Tiger cares about his place in golf history. That, he as much as told everyone, is secured by winning major championships, not Ryder Cup matches or even Ryder Cups.

    And Mickelson? What can be said about Mickelson? He had just completed a summer during which he won over a reluctant public and then made the crass decision to change his equipment (for money) immediately for the Cup. It was all about Phil.

    So when all was said and putted, Spain's Sergio Garcia was not shy about pointing out that people who are not Americans actually do play golf and play it well and may have something to contribute when it comes to how the game should be played.

    Which brings us full circle, to the the U.S.'s unwillingness to listen to others before attacking Iraq, a country that clearly was no imminent threat to the United States and had no direct connections to Osama bin Laden and Al Quaeda, those who conceived and executed the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

    Like American golfers, leaders in the Bush administration are not team builders. Sure, they recruited some support but not enough. Not longtime allies such as France and Germany. Not the United Nations. And the score in Iraq is not much different from that in the Ryder Cup. We're losing because we didn't plan well enough what to do once the mission was accomplished, the war ``won''.

    Capt. Hal knows something about that. But unlike his presidential counterpart, Sutton had the grace to say in defeat: ``Obvioiusly, the pairings sent out didn't create any charism. I made mistakes. I take full responsibility.''

    What a sweet and seldom heard phrase from an American leader of any stripe...I made mistakes.

    On Monday, the day after the American golfers' Waterloo, President Bush spoke to the United Nations and appealed for support. When we begin to listen to others, to recognize they too might know know something. we might even win such support.

    - Steve Love

    posted by Ohioblog: A Swing State Journal at 6:28 PM

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       •  July 2004
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