Your phone rings. It’s the White House. The President of the United States wants you to join him for a round of golf. What do you do?
Do you sling the phone away in disgust? Do you salute it? Do you come up with a reason to bail? Or do you consider this offer an honor, regardless of your feelings about the president?
Whatever you do, there’s no wrong answer — because, see, it’s your choice.
Lexi Thompson, the LGPA’s eighth-ranked golfer, accepted an offer last month to play golf with President Trump and Rush Limbaugh. The White House posted a photo of the three, and social media did what it does best: whipped up a storm of vast, meaningless outrage at Thompson.
It’s a familiar routine. Social media’s gone from being a cool way to keep in touch with some of your high school crew to a democracy-destabilizing sewer blasting the worst of humanity right into your phone. Giving everyone a voice seemed like a great idea in theory; turns out, a whole lot of people don’t say much worth hearing.
But volume is volume, and venom is venom, and in the wake of the tidal wave of criticism that followed the White House’s tweet, Thompson walked away from her Twitter and Instagram accounts. That’s probably a wise move for all of us to follow, but of course, we’d rather it be on our terms than those of faceless trolls.
Now, I know that asking people not to be glowing jackasses on Twitter is like asking the sun to shine a little less brightly. But hell, let’s give it a go anyway.
This was a round of golf. Just golf. Thompson didn’t run down the fairway wearing a MAGA hat and crowing about very fine people on both sides; she played 18 holes with a couple old guys. If she had problems with his politics, that’s on her to decide whether to play. If her sponsors had an issue with her associating with a majority-unpopular and constantly-controversial president, that’s between her and them. Bottom line: Nobody needs @ResistThanos473’s witty input.
In fact, it’s tough to imagine Thompson had a whole lot to discuss with a couple of Social Security-aged dudes besides golf. Just spitballing here, but I doubt Trump or Limbaugh are, say, big “Game of Thrones” fans, and I’d be astonished if they’d willingly listened to any music created since 1985. But every single person who’s hit the links more than once has played with a boss, an in-law, a client … someone you wouldn’t hang with personally, but someone you can kill a couple hours with, without devolving into a tantrum, because you’re an adult.
This isn’t a new phenomenon, and it’s certainly not an attempt to absolve Trump, the most with-me-or-against-me president in modern history. (Hell, our collective blood pressure would probably drop 10 points if he’d spend more time on the links and less on Twitter himself.) Trump clearly views his ability to summon golfers from Tiger Woods to Jack Nicklaus to play with him as a sign of his power — and, let’s be honest, it is. But it’s up to them to decide whether they want to play to Trump’s ego — and, if you believe literally dozens of different accounts, his rampant, unrepentant cheating on the golf course.
Rory McIlroy caught plenty of grief for playing golf with Trump two years ago, and he offered a pointed reply. "[Whether] you respect the person who holds that position or not, you respect the office that he holds. This wasn't an endorsement nor a political statement of any kind," McIlroy wrote. "It was, quite simply, a round of golf. Golf was our common ground, nothing else. I've traveled all over the world and have been fortunate enough to befriend people from many different countries, beliefs and cultures. To be called a fascist and a bigot by some people because I spent some time in someone's company is just ridiculous.”
(Oh, and as for the Trump supporters gloating with tired “so much for the Tolerant Left” lines — go ahead and fire that garbage into the sun. You know full well if Thompson was playing a round with, say, President Obama and Samuel L. Jackson, you’d be falling all over yourself condemning her for running with the Liberal Hollywood Elite. Nobody who spends time staking out us-versus-them territory on social media has clean hands.)
You want to stand on principle and not play golf with President Trump? Great! Bravo to you for having the courage of your convictions. But for the love of heaven, stop wasting even a second of your precious time on this earth criticizing others who do. Put all that righteous energy to work solving real problems — Trump’s always offering up new ways to do battle — and quit Twitter-shaming everyone who doesn’t meet every checkmark of your purity agenda.
Sometimes golf is just golf. And there’s a reason spectators keep their mouths shut.
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