Yes, he's pointing at his nose.
(Insert your own Pinocchio joke.)
Some things just don't mix...
By Torleif Sorenson on 1/17/13
At the outset, you should know that I am very skeptical of people who inject politics into golf. Those people are often politicians, sometimes writers, and on occasion, golfers themselves.

I am skeptical of them precisely because golf is supposed to be fun. An escape. A healthy diversion from the cares of the world. I don't need or want golf to "sell" me something political.

But this week, politicians are again sticking their necks into golf, courtesy of the PGA Tour's Humana Challenge (f.k.a. The Bob Hope Desert Classic). The chief offenders here are former U.S. president Bill Clinton, whose foundation receives part of the proceeds of the tournament, Golf Digest writer Ron Sirak, and nine-time major champion Gary Player. If Clinton was not involved, this might be a less touchy situation. But in this writer's opinion, Bill Clinton is selling himself, not golf or health care. And he clearly loves the attention.

In a column posted yesterday, Sirak engaged in some class warfare, lambasting tour players for failing to "cut the cord with their appearance fee addictions" and scolded them for skipping the Humana/Clinton tournament, which Sirak characterized as "extremely worthy." This is a very questionable judgement call, since it implies that the other Tour events are not nearly as worthy and worthwhile.

Tell that to people in the Quad Cities and they will know that you're lying through your teeth. The John Deere Classic is arguably the biggest event in that area each year, surviving even in the face of competition from the Open Championship. The organizers and beneficiaries of that tournament are very grateful for every big name they can get to play. Remember also that the Quad Cities area is not nearly as affluent as the Palm Springs / La Quinta area, where the Humana Challenge takes place.

In his thinly-disguised lecture, Sirak then quotes nine-time major champion Gary Player:
"This is the single-most important tournament on tour. If I was a professional golfer, I would make it my business to play here this week because you are helping get a message through to a country that really needs the message."
Sirak conveniently left out the fact that Mr. Player now has a formal business arrangement with Humana, announced earlier this month. In journalism, this is called "bias by omission."

It is bad enough that when I turn on the news and political talk shows, I get lectured by politicians and talking heads masquerading as self-appointed "journalists," telling me that I'm an idiot for not thinking the way each of them individually thinks. I don't want to hear this when golf is involved.

So why do talking heads insist on lecturing people the way Clinton and Sirak have, this week? The brilliant economist Thomas Sowell, Ph.D., provided an answer in his book, The Vision of the of Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy:
"In the anointed we find a whole class of supposedly 'thinking people' who do remarkably little thinking about substance and a great deal of verbal expression. In order that this relatively small group of people can believe themselves wiser and nobler than the common herd, we have adopted policies which impose heavy costs on millions of other human beings, not only in taxes, but also in lost jobs, social disintegration, and a loss of personal safety. Seldom have so few cost so much to so many."
In order to keep from tarnishing the PGA Tour "brand" and golf in general, Commissioner Tim Finchem would be better advised to keep a shorter leash on who is involved in sponsorship and visibility at tour events.

And in this writer's opinion, Ron Sirak needs to spend some time reading Tom Sowell, not Bill Clinton.

Have an idea for a guest column? Send it here!

Image via Flickr, Remy Steinegger

[ comments ]
Kurt the Knife says:
We think we know what we're doin'
That don't mean a thing
It's all in the past now
Money changes everything
mantajim says:
I've read your 'column' twice and I still have very little idea of what your so upset about. But, I do see that the very thing you seem to be ranting about, politics in golf, is the very thing you have just subjected us to! Bah Humbug!
onedollarwed says:

President Clinton’s vision and leadership have resulted in nearly 4 million people benefiting from lifesaving HIV/AIDS treatment; more than 12,000 U.S. schools building healthier learning environments; more than 26,000 micro-entrepreneurs, small business owners, and smallholder farmers improving their livelihoods and communities; and more than 2.2 million tons of greenhouse gases cut or abated in some of the world’s largest cities. And President Clinton has redefined the way we think about giving and philanthropy through his Clinton Global Initiative, whose members have made more than 2,100 commitments that have already improved the lives of 400 million people in more than 180 countries.

...but the self congratulatory Thomas Sowell Ph.D. has a bone to pick with anyone who might be somehow have been associated with the concept of "taxes" at some point. Perhaps a dissection of the Clinton Foundation is in order?
onedollarwed says:
And to invoke the thoughts of mantajim... so you want to argue about NAFTA, the sanctions against Iraq, Rwanda? Perhaps that would better accomplished not only in a political forum, but in the last century.
joe jones says:
Celebrities have long used Golf Tournaments as a means of 1.Developing a tax shelter. (legal).2. Raising funds for legitimate charities.3. Keeping their name in front of the public. I don,t think Either # 1 or 3 has much validity for the former President. The fact that the former Bob Hope classic was going to fold and was saved by Clinton enables the charities to continue to grow. It is my understanding that at least 50 % of the proceeds go to helping wounded veterans and children and that alone seems to provide enough of a reason to use his name whether you agree with his politics or not.I read that the majority of PGA players did not vote for him but they don't seem to be upset enough to not play. Thats good enough for me.
Duke of Hazards says:
bias much?
Matt McGee says:
I'm happy that all of the previous comments were already posted when I got here. It saved me the time and effort of creating a 5-paragraph rant about everything that's wrong with this article. Let's stick to golf, eh?
dottomm says:
Wait. You are saying former President and leader of the free world Bill Clinton enjoys public attention? No Way!
Duke of Hazards says:
i expect to be home by 1pm
Duke of Hazards says:
lol. got my screens crossed up.
onedollarwed says:
I think Clinton rubs some people the wrong way, the way the Cheney-Dubya (sic) ticket did to others. However, ask yourself this: would Jimmy Carter getting into a Habitat for Humanity tourney presence in a particularly impoverished area of the South (or Detroit/Cleveland say) ring quite the same way? Is that mixing politics with golf, or is it that Jimmy has a longer and more sincerely humanitarian track record?
After reading my comments, I envy Duke's comment above. Way to change the subject, Cooter!
pruitt says:
far more upsetting to the apple cart was mr finchems statement concerning tobacco......leave my cigars alone timmy
Tim Horan says:
If you don't like the message you have the option of just tuning out and turning off. We had our first snow this week and I took the oportunity to do a few bits, re-shaft a couple of clubs and spend some time out in the now with my grand daughter. I really didn't miss either playing golf or the golf on TV.
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