Dylan Byers of Politico (which Charles Pierce hilariously calls Tiger Beat on the Potomac) writes that Obama did try to make amends with the stenographers afterwards. But it was off-the-record. Did he beat Tiger? He wouldn't say.
Why did the suddenly transparency-conscious trolls of the White House press corps not get their precious photo-ops? I suspect it is because Obama could not do what he usually does when posing for pics with African-American athletes: hold them up as role models of black fatherhood for other black men.
He couldn't dog-whistle to the white PTBs that he is totally down with their conventional racist attitude that as a group, black guys leave something to be desired when it comes to their parenting skills.
The president does this consistently whenever he greets star athletes at the White House. Most recently, as he hosted the Miami Heat basketball champions, he gratuitously pointed to three of them (LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade) as rare examples of responsible (and moneyed) black fatherhood:
And let me just say one last thing about these guys, and I mentioned this as we were coming in. There’s a lot of focus on what happens on the court, but what’s also important is what happens off the court. And I don't know all these guys, but I do know LeBron and Dwayne and Chris. And one of the things I’m proudest of is that they take their roles as fathers seriously. And for all the young men out there who are looking up to them all the time, for them to see somebody who cares about their kids and is there for them day in and day out, that's a good message to send. It’s a positive message to send, and we’re very proud of them for that. (Applause.)Demeaning much? "We" (the ruling class) are very proud of black men whenever they bravely and surprisingly overcome our shameless, all-American continuing institutionalized system of Jim Crow by getting rich, staying monogamous, not abandoning their families, paying child support or staying out of jail for relatively minor drug offenses. Obama is peddling a lot of trickle-down morality here. He gets away with what no white politician could ever get away with -- pandering to white people at the expense of black people, at the same time signalling to white America that he, himself, is "safe."
Much of his constant need to refer to responsible black fathers as exceptions to the rule probably stems from the fact that his own philandering father left the household when he was just a toddler. Tiger Woods fits very uncomfortably into that same category, his own son just a baby when the bimbo scandal erupted. Barack and Tiger appearing to be buddy-buddy on the golf course in the course of a luxurious stag weekend? It had the potential of staining the president's carefully-crafted image as family man.
Obama has long been criticized for "talking tough" to black people, black fathers in particular. His annual Fathers Day sermons, for example, invariably chide African-American males to start acting like men. Other examples can be found here, here and in one particularly cogent analysis of his visit back to Chicago last week to tout gun control before a largely minority audience, here: Writes Zettler Clay of Obama's blaming absentee black fathers for much of the gun violence:
It's one thing to promote fatherhood and community in the context of overcoming and pushing for riddance of systemic ills. It’s another to sell the merits of dads as panacea. That’s irresponsible.
Black and white fathers abandon their children, yet I’d be hard-pressed to imagine a speech like this given to children living in Newtown, Conn. Statistics are often reported to justify this strategy, but one side doesn’t have a monopoly on favorable statistics.
In 2007, a study conducted by Boston University reported that black fathers who don’t reside in the home are more likely to sustain regular contact with their children than fathers of any other group. This isn’t to exonerate black men who neglect their duties, but to emphasize how collective the issue is.Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report is also a longtime critic of Obama's treatment of the black community. Writing about the then-candidate's Father's Day 2008 speech in Chicago, Ford pointed out that the presidential contender was primarily pandering to an uncomfortable white audience:
Thus it was no surprise that Barack Obama used the occasion of Father's Day to give Black males the back of his hand, no doubt to the delight of millions of potential white supporters. Black males have "abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men," said Obama, citing statistics on female-headed households. "You and I know how true this is in the African-American community."
Even the New York Times could see through Obama's transparent bid for white approval at Black people's expense. Reporter Julie Bosman noted that Obama "laid out his case in stark terms that would be difficult for a white candidate to make" - terms (such as boy?) that "his campaign hopes [will] resonate among white social conservatives in a race where these voters may be up for grabs."Fast-forward to the Obama-Woods golfing twosome of 2013. A photo of the paternalistic scold-in-chief with a black athlete who does not adhere to the ideal of responsible, affluent African-American fatherhood? Barack Obama might have been outed as a hypocrite. If he couldn't use the special occasion for presenting his usual moralistic spiel in an opportunistic photo op, then there would be no photo-op.
Case closed, end of story. Now, if only the Washington press corps would be more strident in urging transparancy on, and investigating, Obama's Organizing for Action slush fund, his kill list, and his failure to prosecute Wall Street banksters, I might have a little more sympathy for them. As it is, they too have once more outed themselves as hypocrites more interested in access than in accountability.