US POLITICS: The President Is Golfing and Exercising White Male Privilege – Opinion

Robin Givhan | The Washington Post

Few images capture the position of privilege from which the president operates better than the ones that depict him at his golf club in Virginia. In several of the pictures, he isn’t playing the game — or even holding a club — but rather simply tooling around the course like a feudal lord in a golf cart with his personalized campaign baseball cap pulled low.       

These aren’t depictions of a sportsman or a statesman. For Donald Trump, who has recently turned golfing into his prime presidential duty second only to tweeting, they are portraits of a reckless man in full — specifically a man full of himself.

Trump is the unmasked duffer clutching the wheel of a golf cart, zipping over knolls while his caddie — also unmasked — hangs off the back. Trump has noted that these outings are an efficient form of exercise — practically medicinal, which is about as accurate as saying that being borne up the side of a mountain on a donkey is a form of good-for-you cardio.

The picture of a well-fed White man in a golf cart at a private club is a familiar trope in film and literature that has long been used to telegraph a narrative about fat-cat economics, stifling social hierarchies and inherited advantages. The golf course is the ground on which business is conducted by those on the inside track. It’s a place of backslapping, trash-talking and — in pre-pandemic days — handshaking.

It is a classic metaphor for privilege and disregard — and sometimes establishment ineptness — and one that is also terribly apt for Trump. While a pandemic rages across the country, the president works on his swing. While images of unemployed Americans in seemingly endless food lines sear painful scars into our national psyche, the president is a man at leisure, rolling across the lush, manicured greenery of his private playground while his supporters cheer him on from outside the secure perimeter — and his critics protest.

IN TRUTH, Trump doesn’t even look like he’s having a particularly good time golfing. He simply appears to be avoiding the dreadfulness of his responsibilities. SUCH IS HIS PRIVILEGE. 

In these long days since Joe Biden became president-elect, Trump’s refusal to concede or at least stop obstructing a peaceful transition of power can be described as many things — DELUSIONAL, CHILDISH, UNPATRIOTIC, DANGEROUS — but above all else it has been a tremendous display of the deference afforded to this man.

As a man, WHO ALSO HAPPENS TO BE WHITE AND WEALTHY, he has been able to muster the breathless support of both men and women — from Rudolph W. Giuliani in Pennsylvania court to Kayleigh McEnany in a full-throated media assault — because he lays claim to the benefit of the doubt even where there isn’t even a shadow of it. 

Supporters have asserted that the president should be allowed to exhaust all of his legal options; he should be allowed to get used to the idea of loss; he should be given a chance to collect himself. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in formal remarks spoke about the president like an indulgent parent blaming everyone else for his child’s bad behavior. “Let’s not have any lectures about how the president should immediately, cheerfully accept preliminary election results from the same characters who just spent four years refusing to accept the validity of the last election.”

McConnell seemed not to understand that when the Democrats moved to investigate Trump and impeach him, that meant his critics had, in fact, accepted the reality of his victory. Disliking a president and being determined to hold him to account for malfeasance is not the same thing as denying his existence. 

WHITE MALE PRIVILEGE IS POWERFUL. It overrides facts. It excuses horrendous behavior. It exalts the unqualified. It drew thousands of Trump supporters to the streets of the nation’s capital in their “Make America Great Again” gear and with their flags hoisted high, rubbing shoulders with members of hate groups because they believed the current president — THE BIRTHER PRESIDENT — was righteous in his denial of his loss at the polls. They came to enable the illogic of a man who repaid their fervor with a drive-by appearance on his way to the golf course. 

Others who might well have liked to choose fantasy over fact didn’t have that privilege. Hillary Clinton, who won the popular vote but lost the electoral count to Trump in 2016, was barely given 24 hours to nurse her wounds before much of the country was tapping its toes anxious for her concession. In Georgia, Stacey Abrams lost her 2018 gubernatorial race to Republican Brian Kemp, a man who was also serving as secretary of state, which is to say he was overseeing the election in which he was a candidate.

Abrams spoke up about voter suppression. Protesters converged on the state capitol to demand that all legal votes be counted. Abrams took her concerns to court. She took her time. But then, 10 days after voters had gone to the polls, she accepted the reality of her circumstances. 

“I acknowledge that former Secretary of State Brian Kemp will be certified as the victor in the 2018 gubernatorial election. But to watch an elected official — who claims to represent the people of this state, baldly pin his hopes for election on the suppression of the people’s democratic right to vote — has been truly appalling. So, to be clear, this is not a speech of concession,” Abrams said.

“Concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede. But my assessment is that the law currently allows no further viable remedy.”

It has been two weeks since Election Day. Trump has neither conceded nor formally and finally acknowledged Biden’s victory. TRUMP SIMPLY GOLFS.

In recent days, former president Barack Obama has noted in interviews that Trump’s concession is long overdue for the sake of our democracy. Michelle Obama posted a long missive on her Instagram in which she recalled how difficult it was for her to welcome the Trumps into the White House, but that she did so because she felt compelled to put country before personal animus. She implored Americans to accept the vote tally. And one could only think of Trump’s more than 73 million voters and all those deaf ears on which her words almost certainly landed, people who have no intention of letting the pleas of a Black woman rise up to drown out the drumbeat of WHITE MALE PRIVILEGE because that hierarchy has always been essential to Trump’s appeal.

The only voices that can silence that privilege come from those who also have it. And so, it is significant that Michelle Obama turned her attention to the nation’s leaders and called on them to stop enabling Trump for the sake of national security. Perhaps they will listen. Perhaps they will pull the president aside and broker a deal with a bit of straight talk and an elbow bump.

Perhaps they will do so. Just a couple of lucky White guys on the golf course.

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  • Clyde Duncan  On November 20, 2020 at 2:11 am

    Michelle Obama wrote:

    THIS WEEK, I’VE BEEN REFLECTING A LOT ON WHERE I WAS FOUR YEARS AGO. Hillary Clinton had just been dealt a tough loss by a far closer margin than the one we’ve seen this year. I was hurt and disappointed — but the votes had been counted and Donald Trump had won.

    THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAD SPOKEN. AND ONE OF THE GREAT RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE PRESIDENCY IS TO LISTEN WHEN THEY DO.

    So, my husband and I instructed our staffs to do what George and Laura Bush had done for us:

    RUN A RESPECTFUL, SEAMLESS TRANSITION OF POWER — one of the hallmarks of American democracy. We invited the folks from the president-elect’s team into our offices and prepared detailed memos for them, offering what we’d learned over the past eight years.

    I HAVE TO BE HONEST AND SAY THAT NONE OF THIS WAS EASY FOR ME.

    Donald Trump had spread racist lies about my husband that had put my family in danger. That wasn’t something I was ready to forgive. But I knew that, for the sake of our country, I had to find the strength and maturity to put my anger aside.

    Therefore, I welcomed Melania Trump into the White House and talked with her about my experience, answering every question she had — from the heightened scrutiny that comes with being First Lady to what it’s like to raise kids in the White House.

    I KNEW IN MY HEART IT WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO — because our democracy is so much bigger than anybody’s ego. Our love of country requires us to respect the results of an election even when we don’t like them or wish it had gone differently — THE PRESIDENCY DOESN’T BELONG TO ANY ONE INDIVIDUAL OR ANY ONE PARTY.

    To pretend that it does, to play along with these groundless conspiracy theories — whether for personal or political gain — is to put our country’s health and security in danger. THIS ISN’T A GAME.

    So, I want to urge all Americans, especially our nation’s leaders, regardless of party, to honor the electoral process and do your part to encourage a smooth transition of power, just as sitting presidents have done throughout our history.

  • Clyde Duncan  On November 20, 2020 at 2:20 am

    ‘This isn’t a game’: In An Eloquent And Personal Instagram Post, Michelle Obama Calls For A Smooth Transition Of Power

    By Shannon Larson | Boston Globe

    Former first lady Michelle Obama called on the “nation’s leaders” to honor a peaceful presidential transition in a reflective Instagram post on Monday, where she recalled her family’s own experience leaving the White House and how they handled President Trump’s ascension to power in 2016.

    Her comments on the election, which Democrat Joe Biden won handily against incumbent Donald Trump in both the popular vote and electoral vote, follow the president’s refusal to concede and fellow members of the Republican Party remaining silent — or even encouraging — his baseless claims of voter fraud and lawsuits filed by his campaign in multiple battleground states.

    Most recently, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — who is a Republican — said Monday that he has faced pressure from members of his own party, including Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, to question the validity of absentee ballots cast in the state, the Washington Post reported. Several national news outlets have projected that Biden narrowly won the state over Trump.

    Obama was candid in admitting that she was “hurt and disappointed” by the election results four years ago when Democrat Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost the presidency. But, she wrote, “the votes had been counted and Donald Trump had won.”

    “The American people had spoken,” Obama wrote in the post. “And one of the great responsibilities of the presidency is to listen when they do.”

    Despite her reservations about Trump, Obama detailed how she and her husband, former president Barack Obama, instructed their staffs to “run a respectful, seamless transition of power — one of the hallmarks of American democracy,” as George and Laura Bush had done for them in 2008.

    The pair instructed staff members to participate in the transition, and they invited members of then president-elect Trump’s team into their offices, “and prepared detailed memos for them.”

    TRUMP’S REFUSAL TO ADMIT DEFEAT, AND MOUNTING LEGAL CHALLENGES, HAVE RENDERED BIDEN’S TEAM UNABLE TO ACCESS CRUCIAL INFORMATION AND PREPARE FOR WHEN HE TAKES OFFICE IN JANUARY.

    Analysts and security experts have warned that delaying Biden’s transition could have national security implications, especially at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is worsening nationwide. In the past week, a growing number of Republicans have said that Biden should have access to classified briefings.

    “I have to be honest and say that none of this was easy for me,” Obama wrote. “Donald Trump had spread racist lies about my husband that had put my family in danger. That wasn’t something I was ready to forgive. But I knew that, for the sake of our country, I had to find the strength and maturity to put my anger aside.”

    As a result, Obama wrote how she welcomed Melania Trump into the White House and shared her own experience being the first lady, answering “every question she had.”

    “I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do — because our democracy is so much bigger than anybody’s ego,” she wrote. “Our love of country requires us to respect the results of an election even when we don’t like them or wish it had gone differently — the presidency doesn’t belong to any one individual or any one party.”

    Obama ended her post with an impassioned remark, rebutting those who are refusing to accept the results of the election in the interest of their own political party or personal gain as playing along with “groundless conspiracy theories.”

    She wrote that to engage in bad-faith arguments puts “our country’s health and security in danger.”

    “This isn’t a game,” Obama wrote. “So I want to urge all Americans, especially our nation’s leaders, regardless of party, to honor the electoral process and do your part to encourage a smooth transition of power, just as sitting presidents have done throughout our history.”

    Obama appeared in a few videos for president-elect Joe Biden during his campaign — in one, accusing Trump of “willful mismanagement” of the coronavirus crisis and of racism. Her husband is currently promoting his new memoir, called “A Promised Land.”

    In an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired on Sunday night, the former president also spoke of a divided nation and called on Trump to accept the results of the election.

    “When your time is up, then it is your job to put the country first and think beyond your own ego, and your own interests, and your own disappointments,” he said.

    “My advice to President Trump is, if you want at this late stage in the game to be remembered as somebody who put country first, it’s time for you to do the same thing.”

  • Clyde Duncan  On November 20, 2020 at 2:51 am

    Rolling Stone reporting:

    Thousands of Donald Trump’s supporters streamed down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Supreme Court here Saturday, their collective lament about a stolen election clanging off the white marble of the institutions this president has tried — is still trying — to pulverize.

    Billed as the “Million MAGA March”, it was a moment for the many corners of Trumpworld to get off the internet and into the streets to protest the outcome of the election.

    Women for Trump. Hispanics for Trump. Some 50 Proud Boys, sporting black and gold. QAnon conspiracy theorists and assorted MAGAlebrities with podcasting equipment. All were there.

    Many of the crowd — estimated to number in thousands or possibly tens of thousands — genuinely believed that the 2020 election was fraudulent. Some thought there was still time to undo the results.

    But for most, the one thing they could not stand to lose was the feeling of belonging that being a Trump supporter has given them. No matter what inconvenient truths were crashing in, this tribalism, this mutual affirmation of unreality, this MAGA thing, which was always about more than politics, it had to go on.

    Everyone experiences the stages of grief in their own order, and at their own speed. Denial was rampant. One speaker assured the crowds that Trump could flip battleground states because “he has the greatest legal minds behind him.”

    In fact, that morning, the president had placed Rudy Giuliani in charge of legal efforts. There was fury, too — much of it directed at Fox News, which everybody now seemed to regard as the greatest Judas in political history.

    “Election night killed it: They turned liberal,” explained Barker. The dagger was plunged when the network called Arizona for Biden early. But also because they’d been booking Democrats like Donna Brazile and Pete Buttigieg for months. And simply because Trump himself has issued a fatwa on Fox.

    “I will never watch them again. Ever. And I kept FOX on live TV, 24/7 for the past seven years, all the time. I even watched it while I was at work, while I was on my computer,” said Barker. Now, it’s all about Newsmax or OAN.

  • Clyde Duncan  On November 20, 2020 at 3:02 am

    No Votes Which the White Man Was Bound To Respect

    Jamil Smith | Rolling Stone

    Trump never wanted to be a president for all Americans. Now he’ll be president for none of them

    Donald Trump’s loss to Joe Biden was a fitting denouement to a presidency replete with hateful policy, deliberate neglect, and slothful governance.

    The vote count looked good for Trump on Election Day, in part because he had discouraged his own supporters from using the postal service he’d sabotaged to mail in their ballots. As the count went on, Biden benefited, and Trump behaved as if math was magical.

    Trump didn’t see the punch coming, or acted like he didn’t, because he was fighting an opponent he didn’t see.

    Not an apparition or someone who could bend light, but someone whom he simply refused to recognize – Black and Brown and Latinx and Jews.

    As if he were a villain in Ralph Ellison’s great American novel, Trump lost to the invisible voter. During the campaign, Trump was never subtle about his preference:

    He would rather lose as the president of white people than even attempt to be the president of the United States.

    So those of us whom he erased, along with our allies, were fine with that. In this election, by a considerable margin, we got him squared away.

    It was somewhat poetic to see a man who got his start discriminating against black tenants in New York City evicted from the White House by black and brown voters.

    This likely has a lot to do with why Trump can’t handle the result.

    Perhaps he thought the regressive MAGA nation he’s been trying to turn America into is what the nation actually is.

    Or, even more curiously, he could have believed that he had committed enough sabotage with his vandalism of the postal service and planted Supreme Court picks that he could just order up a fixed election, as one might a fast-food meal.

    If Republicans lose again in Georgia’s Senate run-offs, that would be yet another comeuppance.

    Many would surely enjoy seeing Harris, the incoming Senate president, be able to break a tie on every partisan-line vote, right in front of newly minted Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

    However, there isn’t enough schadenfreude in the world to make up for their enabling of the boy-president who couldn’t give a damn about the country, about the job he claims he wants to keep, and certainly not about the 75 million people who fired him from that position.

  • Jo  On November 20, 2020 at 11:27 am

    A long time ago, at the age of 22, having graduated with my first degree and teaching qualification gained in London, Eng., I realized that I didn’t need the white man’s permission to breathe..something I’d done freely in my beautiful mother country of British Guiana. After emigrating to Canada and for the first time experiencing road blocks to jobs I was qualified for, my strategy became one of learning the art of detour. I would respond using legal means like a submission to the Human Rights Commission, newly formed in those days, if push came to shove. I ended up forming a union at one employer which allowed us to see classic lines of discriminatory pay according to the usual criteria. At yet another public place of work, I’ve been privileged to be able to file a union grievance. Most important though was the commitment to keep on growing and developing regardless of denial of worth. The Jews had learned the first basic lesson of life..what’s in your brain, no person can steal. Here’s the other part of the equation. I learned to ignore the white man and his stupidity since he was merely mortal like me. The Chinese ignore them as being of any intrinsic value to their advancement. They persist regardless of the white man’s opinion and “say-so”. Thus the stunning development from a poor starving country in the 1980’s to the world’s second largest economy. The White Man assumes that he’s at the top of some racial hierarchy from which he cannot be toppled. But empires come and go. The values we cultivate determine our life. Trump’s values are as useless to the best qualities of life as he is. Now time spent in his company is a waste of our time. He needs to be ignored. Soon he will be, thank heaven, with less attention paid to every foul breath he gives off. Count down to the time we will not be spending staring, slack-jawed at this human monstrosity and just getting on with our precious lives. Every moment averted from the clown is a moment gained for your own most precious life.

  • Clyde Duncan  On November 21, 2020 at 8:02 am

    Jo wrote:

    “Trump’s values are as useless to the best qualities of life as he is. Now time spent in his company is a waste of our time. He needs to be ignored. Soon he will be, thank heaven, with less attention paid to every foul breath he gives off.

    Count down to the time we will not be spending staring, slack-jawed at this human monstrosity and just getting on with our precious lives. Every moment averted from the clown is a moment gained for your own most precious life.”

    George Santayana wrote:

    PROGRESS, FAR FROM CONSISTING IN CHANGE, DEPENDS ON RETENTIVENESS.

    When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement:

    When experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual.

    THOSE WHO CANNOT REMEMBER THE PAST ARE CONDEMNED TO REPEAT IT.

  • Jo  On November 21, 2020 at 11:47 am

    To Clyde: You stretch my words beyond my intention. Who will forget Trump and all the other thugs that have come and gone or are with us still in quite a few countries worldwide? Of course we retain the experience. (And by the way..Santayana like others one may embrace as the fount of wisdom, are quoted as the final word if you choose to have it so. Even these wiseacres come and go.) I think for myself. Change under Hitler seemed absolute until…Change under Trump is not quite so absolute, until…Now these thuggish developments happen because a passel of (usually) men have no spine and are thin in their integrity and human values. Nothing in life stays the same forever. Even dictators age and die out like Mugabe of whom many finally had had enough. And savages are perpetual infants? That alone is racist to the core. So I’ll pass on some wise man like Santayana and speak for myself.

    The summary of my remarks is that I’ve heard enough each day for the last four years of this ignorant and psychologically deformed man’s behaviour and remarks. I will not spend precious time absorbing more. The garbage bin is already overflowing. It needs to be carted off. That will happen. If a large percentage of Americans want to remain under his spell, I’ll leave the Americans to get on with it. That doesn’t mean I don’t bother to be informed. I am. But percentage wise of my time…as little as possible. Making my life better means more than wasting time like Trump’s followers, drunk on the Kool-Aid.

    Thanks anyway for your input. Appreciated.

  • Clyde Duncan  On November 21, 2020 at 2:17 pm

    Jo: At least, you now know that someone was paying attention …..

    Glad you took the comments in stride!!

  • Jo  On November 21, 2020 at 4:39 pm

    The power of words to incite or just communicate, respectfully. We’re all adults…Have a great weekend. J

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