Two Peas in a Pod: Tiger & Obama

by Norman Berdichevsky (May 2010)

As young men, Barak Obama and Tiger Woods were driven by the enormous desire to overcome what was generally regarded as their “handicap”; a multiracial background that made of each an “outsider” competing in two of the most competitive fields of endeavor of professional life in America – politics and championship golf. Their reach for the stars was rewarded beyond the wildest dreams of those who deeply endorse the most optimistic and enthusiastic view of American society, the crucial ingredient of which, is MERIT. It certainly was not a case of success being forecast by birth, social status, money, connections, or “affirmative action”, and yet both have, with their own shortsighted, intensely arrogant overconfidence, paved the way for their inevitable downfall. 

Woods was born in Cypress, California to Earl (1940-2006) and Kultida (Tida) Woods (born 1944). He is the only child of their marriage but has two half-brothers. His father was a United States Army Lieutenant Colonel and Vietnam War veteran, of mixed African-American, Chinese and Native American ancestry. His mother Kultida (
“Cablinasian, i.e. half Asian (one-quarter Chinese and one-quarter Thai). The term is his own invention, (Caucasian, Black, Indian and Asian). At birth, Woods was given ‘Eldrick’ and ‘Tont’ as first and middle names. His middle name, Tont 

During the campaign, Obama in the Iowa caucus primary emphasized his mother’s Mid-American background, her work in a defense plant and the white side of his family. Since his ascension to the presidency, I cannot recall them being mentioned once. In Dreams from My Father (p.101), Barack Obama writes about his time at Occidental College in Los Angeles and brings up the subject on Joyce, a girl like him and Tiger, with a multiracial background yet castigates her pride in equally celebrating all racial and ethnic strains in her heritage.

“They, they, they. That was the problem with people like Joyce. They talked about the richness of their multicultural heritage and it sounded real good, until you noticed that they avoided black people; To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets. We smoked cigarettes and wore leather jackets. At night, in the dorms, we discussed neocolonialism, Franz Fanon, Eurocentrism, and patriarchy. When we ground out our cigarettes in the hallway carpet or set our stereos so loud that the walls began to shake, we were resisting bourgeois society’s stifling conventions. We weren’t indifferent or careless or insecure. We were alienated.

But this strategy alone couldn’t provide the distance I wanted, from Joyce or my past. After all, there were thousands of so-called campus radicals, most of them white and tenured and happily tolerant. No, it remained necessary to prove which side you were on, to show your loyalty to the black masses, to strike out and name names.”

Glorifying his own alienation and using every ploy to distance himself from Joyce on the verge of tears; this was the road Obama chose. Would he advise Tiger to fill out the new census form as only “Afro-American” or allow him the choice of “mixed racial ancestry”, given what we know he wrote about “people like Joyce”? I don’t know and don’t care. Both Joyce and Tiger as well as any of us have the right to define ourselves. Where this right is honored, no collective right can be dishonored or privileged above others. What useful information does the Census gain by its listing of racial categories except to provide fodder for those who claim to speak for “communities” and for ambitious politicians ready to lead them?

Two minor but revealing incidents involving a brush with the police demonstrate the fundamental similarity of the exalted status both Obama and Tiger regard as their prerogative. In July, 2009, without waiting to hear any of the substantive information from the Cambridge Police Department and acting on the complaint of a close personal friend and Harvard University “academic expert” on race, Professor Henry Louis Gates Junior, who had been arrested for disorderly conduct, the President labeled action by Sergeant Crowley as “stupid”. The subsequent facts and knowledge of the Sergeant’s outstanding record for integrity and reputation in racial matters including having taught a course on racial profiling, as well as the full endorsement of Chief of the Cambridge Chief of Police, forced official Whitehouse spokesman, the notoriously inept Robert Gibbs, to backtrack and employ a Newspeak interpretation of the President’s words, stating, Let me be clear; he was not calling the officer stupid. I think that the circumstances are so egregious that it was the adjective that … logically popped into his head.” (sic ! ? ?) 

In late November 2009, the Florida Highway Patrol records also show that troopers ran into resistance following the citation issued to Tiger Woods for “reckless driving” when they tried to investigate whether Woods was under the influence of alcohol or drugs while behind the wheel of his car in the wee hours of the morning.

On his second appearance in active competition at the end of April after his self-imposed exile, Tiger did not make the cut at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, finishing nine above par. He had to walk off the course with his head bowed amidst jeering, boos and more than a few “thumbs down” from the “fans.” Never before in competition, had he been so humiliated. He then withdrew from competition in the next event, complaining of a “pain in the neck”. The media love nothing more than building up a hero and icon in order to tear him/her down and what a fall awaits Obama! Whether it comes from the exasperation of voters convinced they were bamboozled by his promises or a combination of the hidden details of his real birth certificate, dual citizenship, his unreleased college records, previous passports, involvement in Kenyan politics or simply the fall out from the Chicago Democratic state machine, hoodlums/media sharks/religious charlatans/Acorn connections/PLO apologists who were his close associates and allies, the die is waiting to be cast.

There is one significant difference between the two “Yes, we can men.” Tiger has honed his golfing skills to an unprecedented level and it is likely that he will be able to maintain that ability for championship play for many years, if not decades to come. It took Obama less than a year to demonstrate he WAS NEVER FIT for the job. 

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