For those of you lucky non-golfers, let me give you a little background on how a friendly golf match goes. It’s 2 on 2 for money. So, each guy has a partner and the low score on the hole wins the hole for that 2-person team. It’s called match play. It’s played at country clubs and public golf courses around the country every day. And, it’s usually very friendly. Don’t get me wrong, all of my golfing buddies are highly competitive guys who love to win. It doesn’t even matter how much money you win; it’s all about watching your buddy reach into his wallet and hand you cash at the end of the round (quick digression: I hate that guys are starting to pay golf bets with Venmo and PayPal; it defeats the entire purpose of gambling, which is to make some guy fork over cash).
OK, so if it’s competitive, what makes it so friendly? There’s a lot of encouragement and praise for your opponent. For example, yesterday my opponent had a 10 foot birdie putt on the 9th hole. If he makes it there’s a good chance we might lose the hole (actually, I had a 6-footer for birdie and drained it). Nonetheless, as Mike stepped up to the putt, I said, “Knock it in, dude.” Indeed, he did. As the ball dropped into the cup, I said, “Awesome putt; great birdie.” My partner, also his opponent, said the same thing.
All good so far, right? Not so fast. Question: when I said, “knock it in dude,” what was my internal talk track? As I recall, it went something like this, “Hmmmm, if he makes this, I have to make that 6-footer just to tie the damn hole. And, it’s got some right to left in it. But, it’s only 6 feet so maybe I won’t play any break. Anyway, Mike’s putt is on the same line so I’ll get a read from that. Shit, it would be so much easier if he just missed his. Then, I’ve got 6 feet for the win. Ok, Mike, miss that friggin’ putt. You know it’s got some break. You’re gonna play it too far out to the right and shove it by the hole. C’mon, man, miss it. Miss it! Shit! You drained it. Ugh, now I have to make mine just to tie.”
In other words, my entire “knock it in dude” narrative was a total lie. It goes on like this all day. When Mike’s partner, Charlie, blasted his drive down the center of the fairway on number 11, I said, “Awesome drive man. You’re really hitting the ball well” as I thought to myself, “I wish the dude would miss just one fairway. Please!”
It was against this backdrop that Charlie came up with the idea of “honest golf.” What if, he said, instead of the disingenuous platitudes we toss at each other for 18 holes, we just said what we were actually thinking. It would be very different that’s for sure. I hit my drive in the hazard and I hear two guys yell, “Yessss!” as they fist bump each other. My opponent drains that birdie putt, I say, “Crap, I was really hoping you’d miss that.” It will never happen, but it’s funny to think about. It will never happen because, even though the average male golfer has the couth of a gorilla, golf is still a gentleman’s game (apologies to my women golfer friends, but my experience is with men’s golf). And, it works. No need to change a thing. But, the one thing we have to acknowledge about golf – we lie to each other all day long.
There’s another realm that has historically been a gentleman/gentlewoman’s game and that’s politics. Until Donald Trump. Nobody would ever mistake the President for a gentleman. He’s a crass boor. He’s cringeworthy on a daily basis. But, he’s honest. Imagine what’s going through Nancy Pelosi’s head when she’s talking about him. Probably something like, “the orange man with the little hands did it again.” But, she lies. She doesn’t say what she’s actually thinking. Conversely, when President Trump hears Adam Schiff’s grating voice, he says, “Shifty Schiff is at it again.” Brain to Tweet, with no stops in between.
The irony in all this is that the left loves to call Trump a liar. Ha! There’s never been a more honest politician. You know exactly what he’s thinking about a nanosecond after he thinks it. It’s the rest of the political class that lie by telling you they’re rooting for you to make the putt while secretly hoping you ram it 8 feet by. I concede that social filters have a roll in polite society, golf, and politics. But, remember why President Trump was elected. He was elected, first and foremost, to drain the political swamp and chase away all the swamp denizens in the process. That would be hard to do using the usual polite tone employed by people like John McCain and George W. Bush. It required someone who would be completely honest and speak their mind, even if it comes across a bit crass and childish. It makes people pay attention.
I think I have much better social filters than President Trump, but I do have a reputation for blunt honest discourse. A good friend once said to me, “I think it; you say it.” Donald Trump says it. He says it honestly and in language that cannot possibly be mistaken or misunderstood. For years, the right gently complained that they weren’t getting a fair shake in the mainstream media. Nobody listened and too many people failed to understand just how serious the problem was and the implications of a dishonest media. Donald Trump accurately gives them the moniker “fake news.” It’s accurate. It sticks. And, everyone understands exactly what it means.
My guess is that we’ll return to a somewhat more civil politic someday. But, right now, we needed honesty. We needed direct talk. It was the only way to get people’s attention. And it worked. As I’ve been saying for 3 years now, ignore the boorish demeanor, and you have one of the most successful first-term presidents in American history. That’s the truth.