Tiger, Barack, and the Law of Transitivity

By Lisa Schiffren
The American Thinker
December 8, 2009

As a rule, the revelation that a married athlete (or actor, or rock star, or politician) has conducted extramarital affairs with bevy of “party girls” may titillate, but rarely has the power to shock. In those realms, these things happen. Entitled men. Willing women. Deceived wives. What’s new?

So what is it about Tiger Woods that makes his cheating so different from the usual that ten days on, the nation is still discussing revelations of conquests, trysts, payoffs, and physical injuries inflicted by a golf club?

Sure, there’s normal prurience at work. But mostly, we are interested because Tiger Woods, who may legitimately be the best golfer ever, had been turned into an all-purpose icon: a man of personal rectitude, a lovely smile, apparent openness; a family man, with a lovely wife and two adorable babies. And of course, he was our first living embodiment of the collective hope for racial reconciliation. Who knew that the early reports of his betrayed wife Elin swinging at him with a golf club constituted literal icon-smashing?

We are staring because we’ve been had. Betrayed. We see now that the image was all a fraud. The talent was real. But the things that made the public like Tiger personally — the low-key demeanor, manners, and sweet smile of countless sports-page photos, magazine covers, political analogies, and most important, product endorsements, was an act. That would be betrayal enough. But it wasn’t just Woods’ act. The larger lesson here is about how much artifice — sustained, deliberate deception — goes into the construction of a public persona when there is profit to be made or power to be had…

…Let’s move on to Tiger the metaphor. Because anyone with four functioning brain cells gets that if this comprehensive a charade can be sustained for a decade as Woods and those around him amassed billions, it can happen elsewhere. It can happen right in front of our eyes.

If I were watching the public’s disgust with the newly revealed Tiger Woods from an office in the West Wing, I’d be concerned. Because Barack Obama is about as completely manufactured a political character as this nation has seen. His meteoric rise, without the inconvenience of a public record or accomplishments, and the public’s willing suspension of critical evaluation of his résumé allowed his handlers and the media to project whatever they wanted to on his unfurrowed brow.

Ironically, the parallels have nothing to do with race. The Obama campaign did explicitly attempt to borrow the from the then-universal Tiger Woods appeal to allay any discomfort voters might have had with a mixed-race politician. They constructed a persona that would make the American electorate comfortable with a barely-known, first-term senator with a left wing voting record, a deliberately obscured personal and professional past, and no traditional qualifications for high office…

The article continues at The American Thinker.

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