Partnering Obama, &c.


I see that Obama has played golf with Boehner and Kasich — nice. Glad. Early last year, I wrote a piece for National Review about Obama and golf: “Hail to the Golfer-in-Chief,” here. Let me quote a little swatch from toward the end:

On the golf course, as I have indicated, the rest of the world can sort of melt away. Also, a camaraderie, or brotherhood, can develop. The legendary teacher Harvey Penick once wrote a book with a memorable title: “And If You Play Golf, You’re My Friend.” I imagine that President Obama and Rush Limbaugh would enjoy a round of golf together. I’d like to make a third! And maybe the president could suggest a left-leaning fourth, so that our group is philosophically even?

I still think a round with Rush would be a good idea — good for the whole country. And I have a feeling that both men — Obama and the Great One — would enjoy their time together.

Actually, an Obama-Rush date has been suggested by someone with more clout than I have. It has been suggested by Zev Chafets, Rush’s biographer, who has White House connections (and connections all over). He floated the idea to the White House. The answer came back: Nothin’ doin’. Pity.

I wrote about this little episode last May — May 2010 — in a blogpost, here.

A speck more golf (not that we’ve really done any)? I wrote a little something — again, just a little blogpost — about Rory McIlroy and his stunning, smashing victory at the U.S. Open, here.

By the way, the Open was held on this course — Congressional — in 1964. My grandfather, a local links legend (D.C. area, we’re talking), was a marshal. Ken Venturi won, as you recall.

Not long ago, I saw a headline: “Juppe says Assad has lost legitimacy to rule Syria.” Juppe is Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister. Assad is — well, the Syrian dictator, like his (monstrous) father before him. Since when did these people have legitimacy at all?

One of the best, most encouraging pieces of news I’ve heard in a long time is that Ryan Crocker is going to be our ambassador to Afghanistan. He’s just about the best we have, certainly for that part of the world. For a recent news story about him, go here. Crocker has been ambassador to Lebanon, to Kuwait, to Syria, to Pakistan, and to Iraq. I met him when he was in Baghdad. May I quote something I wrote?

. . . before we leave the room [I’m talking about some colleagues and I], I ask a standard journalistic question: “Is there anything else you’d like to say? Is there anything you wish people could know?” He says yes, actually: and gives what, to me, is a very moving and impassioned statement — an impassioned statement from an understated, careful, and, from what I can tell, cool man:

“Iraq is really, really important. How things go here will transform the region and America’s role in the region, one way or the other. If Iraq is successful in establishing itself as a democracy, where the rule of law is paramount, that will be something remarkable for the region.” America will be judged, as well as Iraq: “Ultimately, how we leave and what we leave behind will be more important than how we got here.”

Crocker continues, “People are tired of Iraq. They say, ‘Let’s get it over and done with. We don’t want to watch the Iraq movie anymore.’ But the Iraq movie will go on for many more reels, with or without us. And it will have a big effect on us, whether we like it or not.”

That was in October 2008, by the way. Since January 2010, Crocker has been dean of the Bush (41) school at Texas A&M. It speaks well of President Obama, I think, that he plucked Crocker to go to Afghanistan. It may also speak of how challenging the situation is.

I’m looking at a headline: “Amnesty condemns sharp rise in Saudi beheadings.” Yeah, they do like their beheadings there. And I’m thinking: I wonder what Human Rights Watch is saying. HRW, as you recall, went fundraising in Saudi Arabia: because the Saudis tend to be not so fond of the Israelis, and neither does HRW.

Can you imagine: a human-rights group fundraising in Saudi Arabia? You don’t have to imagine much — ’tis real.


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