Tiger Woods is a professional golfer. He hits a little white ball around a lush green golf course for a living. And he’s arguably the best to ever play the game.
So why are the social justice warriors of the world suddenly trying to embroil him in some sort of political turmoil? Why does a reporter from The New York Times want to know what Tiger Woods thinks about President Trump, about immigrants who feel “threatened” by him, about “race relations” in America?
The whole gotcha game played out Sunday, after Mr. Woods had just completed his final round at a PGA Tour event in New Jersey. Answering questions from the media, sweat still pouring down his forehead, Mr. Woods was asked: “Your relationship with Donald Trump, how would you describe that personally and professionally?”
“I’ve known Donald for a number of years,” he said. “We’ve played golf together. We’ve had dinner together. And so, yeah, I’ve known him pre-presidency and obviously during his presidency.”
The writer — of course from The New York Times — followed up.
“At a time, especially 2018, I think a lot of people, especially people of color, immigrants feel threatened by him, by his policies. He’s thrown himself in sports debates in terms of race with [NBA player] LeBron James, with the [national] anthem. What do you say to people who might find it interesting, I guess, that you have a friendly relationship with him?”
Mr. Woods then delivered the most diplomatic of answers.
“Well, he’s the president of the United States and you have to respect the office. And no matter who’s in the office, you may like, dislike the personality or the politics, but we all must respect the office,” Mr. Woods said.
The reporter from the liberal paper tried one last time.
“Do you have anything to say more broadly about the state, I guess, the discourse of race relations?”
“No,” Mr. Woods said with a slight smile. “I just finished 72 holes and I’m really hungry.”
Mr. Woods was right to be cautious. In today’s hyper-politicized world, his answer was sure to polarize. It was a no-win situation, so he let it be. And his answer was exactly what limousine liberals and mouthy musicians should emulate: We’re all Americans, so respect the office. Then shut it.
Everybody was pretty much OK with Mr. Woods’ answer — everybody but ESPN’s Max Kellerman. ESPN, you’ll recall, has been hemorrhaging viewers, especially after the network began dabbling in partisan politics (Case in point: Last year, ESPN star Jemele Hill famously called Mr. Trump a “white supremacist.”)
Mr. Kellerman ripped Mr. Woods’ answer, saying it was a “thoughtless statement dressed up as a thoughtful statement.”
“It either holds in contempt the intelligence of people who hear it or else it’s just a stupid thing to say … To say you must have respect for the office — Tiger, be clear. Are you saying that the office, therefore, confers respect onto its present temporary occupant? No. Having respect for the office means principally, in my view, is the office holder should have respect for the office,” he said.
He blathered on. “We are held to a standard of behavior, we at our jobs, right, people in their daily lives. The president, if anything, is held to a higher standard of behavior. It is not such that we have such great respect for the office that no matter what the behavior of its occupant, we must respect the occupant because of the office. No. Tiger Woods … is being slick. We must respect the office therefore that confers respect to the occupant. Tiger, is that is what you are saying? If that is what you are saying, that is a stupid comment.”
Mr. Kellerman’s co-host, Stephen A. Smith, simply declared that Mr. Woods is “not black.” Huh?
Mr. Trump saw the ham-handed move for what it was: A weak attempt to sandbag a world-class athlete.
“The Fake News Media worked hard to get Tiger Woods to say something that he didn’t want to say. Tiger wouldn’t play the game — he is very smart. More importantly, he is playing great golf again!” he tweeted.
We live in silly times. In 2018, a reporter from a (once) respected newspaper can ask a sweaty pro golfer what he thinks about race relations in America. And then we’re all supposed to get up in arms about whatever his answer is. Then another guy on a liberal TV network can disparage the golfer because he didn’t give the answer that HE wanted.
Strike “silly times.” Make that “stupid times.”
⦁ Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @josephcurl.
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