A swift change from dominance to bullyism

I am not a golfer, but my good friend Bill is… has been for years to what many probably consider an addictive level. I do watch on television, however, occasional PGA and LPGA events since it’s the only spectator sport that allows me to feel mentally relaxed and not obliged to maintain some artificial team loyalty. And, as a bonus, such viewing permits me to multitask; even becomes point of origin for some of my writing.

Last Sunday, Bill invited me to be his guest at the final round of the LPGA Safeway Classic tournament. The ladies were in town, playing at what I’ve come to call Bill’s “alternate residence” or, if you prefer, hangout: Columbia-Edgewater CC. This annual event provides the Portland married male population a live opportunity to find out what our 39th president, Jimmy Carter, meant by “committing adultery in the heart,” for this bevy of talented golfers do an extraordinary job to help choreograph the stage for lust.

But fear not, I won’t get into the subject of lust, or a dissertation on why these LPGA girls really rock beyond the promotional PR. Nor is my subject the current top player in women’s golf, Lorena Ochoa, the winner this time – her third consecutive victory after the recent crowning as Lady Top Gun. No, it isn’t about this complete individual, athlete as well as person, but rather the level of expectation thrust upon her by those in the media who make a living commenting on the sport: broadcasters and writers of golf.

It seems that for at least an entire generation these media dedicated hitters, not just in golf but in all broadcasted sports, resort to color commentary all too often made with derogatory brushstrokes on these superstars’ ascent to or descent from the very top. Only when you’ve been crowned, without possible nearby pretenders, that you are afforded the adulation and regal treatment… but only if you remain distanced from the sport’s hoi polloi professionals and stay dominant in the sport.

A local sportswriter told me a few years back, when I asked him about what I interpreted as a changed and jingoistic attitude on the part of sports’ commentators during the Summer Olympics, that the American psyche had changed drastically during the 80’s, and that sports were simply following the societal model in international politics of winner-take-all, no longer a podium to share with silver and bronze. According to him, the old American ideal of “pulling for the underdog” had been buried with the advent of the “awakening of America” promulgated during the Reagan years.

A dominant role in a sport like golf could prove to be immensely beneficial for its growth and popularity; that is, when that role is held by someone who not only possesses great skills to master the greens, but also the personal stature to do it with grace and humility. I have no doubt that Ms. Ochoa will fit the bill in women’s golf.

A dominant role in international politics could also prove to be greatly beneficial to the social and economic well-being of the world at large, and provide an opportunity to work towards peace and harmony among nations. That dominant role was inherited by the United States as the 80’s were coming to a close; but, unfortunately, this nation was ill-prepared to assume such responsibility with appropriate grace and humility. Instead, aided by political bipartisanship, it transformed its acquired dominance into bullyism… elevated to a true moral art form by the Bush administration and the centurions of neoconservatism.

No place has been more obvious in America’s attempt for global hegemony than in its dealings with the peoples and nations of the Middle-East: from its clear interference in Lebanon’s internal politics, to the genocidal adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq, to the menacing treatment of Syria and Iran, to the bully in-your-face economic punishment of a government democratically elected in Palestine. Of course, America’s meddling in the political affairs of former soviet republics, or the coup against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela (2002), was also par for the course. The metamorphosis from dominant to bully was swift, requiring a single stage.

However, America’s hegemony can no longer be built on the perceived economic or military weaknesses of other nations, not when those perceptions are beginning to be proven wrong. Both Russia and China are on an international ascending course; China now beginning to flex its economic muscles; and Russia finally ridding itself of the complex it acquired from the breakup of the Soviet empire and its struggle in adopting a new system; an unnecessary struggle for which the US is much to be blamed. And there are other major nations and regions on that same ascending course. All of this is concurrently happening as the US appears to the world, economically and militarily, as an overblown bubble ready to burst.

And to think… the United States once had an opportunity to be on top with grace, just like Lorena!