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TIGER'S FOLLY

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Among Tiger Woods' failures was his inability to live up to standards set by others

Cult of Personality, or Master of Deceit?

"I've committed adultery in my heart many times. I've looked on a lot of women with lust," -- Jimmy Carter

Obviously, when it comes to women, had Tiger Woods mimicked the style of another man who carried the unforgiving burden of a saintly persona -- former President Jimmy Carter -- and simply committed adultery in his heart, the public reaction to Woods' "transgressions" would have been vastly less sanctimonious. Of course, we now know that the outwardly collected and seemingly well-centered Woods went ahead and tapped into his prodigious libido both before and during his marriage, an action that more closely mimicked the style of another former president -- Bill Clinton.

As a result of this revelation, occurring in this era of a web-connected universe, in the tweet of a Twitter, Woods morphed from likable living legend to lecherous lothario; from squeaky clean to creepy debaucher. In the eyes of many, it was lovable Ned Flanders who woke up next to Elin Woods this past Thanksgiving morning, and loathsome Glenn Quagmire who returned to bed alone that night.

Of course, Woods may have been able to sail through his current conundrum had he preemptively lowered expectations about his behavior by cultivating the persona of the prototypical overpaid 21st Century superstar athlete.

He could have staged a poseur's rebellion against a solid, two-parent upbringing by adopting the profile of a "new jack" golfer; a cocky, ostentatious mega-talent who swaggers -- completely blinged out-- into tournaments crew-thick, rocking gold chains, unlaced Timberlands, do-rags and sagged-out baggy jeans. Surely by now he'd have picked up a minor drug bust or two, and probably as well a reputation as a boisterous strip club rainmaker who always leaves with a hottie on each arm and concealing the obligatory unregistered 9-milli strap to compliment the designer bullet-proof vest.

The point is that for many of his high-minded critics, the fact that Woods chose the to avoid that obnoxious lifestyle and instead get married, become a provider to his family and offer a composed public profile while generally living as a law-abiding citizen, seems the primary justification for the type of harsh reaction that has emerged about Woods since the hypersexual nature of his otherwise apparently exemplary conduct was revealed this past Thanksgiving Day.

Standard deviant

Apparently, there are some generally thoughtful observers who have been able to wrap their arms around the "Tiger Woods as Cunning Degenerate" premise. Reputable New York Times Columnist Frank Rich recently wrote a devastating column positing that Woods, not Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Ben Bernanke, is more deserving of Time magazine's Person of the Year recognition, since Woods' behavior symbolizes of a decade of rampant, across-the-board hypocrisy, deception and corruption within society as a whole. An upcoming Vanity Fair article fairly bristles with contempt at Woods' "betrayal" of the public trust and at what is described as Woods' and his handlers' deliberately-planned dog and pony show to concoct a false wholesome image designed to fool sponsors into throwing millions at Tiger.

Internet blogs and other on-line publications are filled with comments depicting Woods as a shallow deviant; of being little more than a sex-starved charlatan who deals with the insufferable ennui he experiences between his sordid dalliances by playing in golf tournaments. Indeed his popularity has now plummeted to near-Dick Cheney levels. In 2005, Woods had an approval rating of 87 percent, according to a recent USA Today/Gallup poll, which now gives Woods a 33 percent approval rating and 57 percent unfavorable.

Meanwhile, as the rush of corporate sponsors away from Woods shifts into high gear, the sport he has dominated for years has, as well, swiftly moved into post-Tiger mode. Sponsors of the upcoming PGA Tour, in which Woods had been scheduled to participate, have begun focusing their hype machine on the many great golfers who, in previous years, found themselves overshadowed by the Woods phenomenon and appropriately relegated to "who's coming in second place?" status. The promos are fairly blatant:

"The once unheralded is now celebrated!!!"

"The once unlikely is now destiny!!!"

"The once embattled is now triumphant!!!"

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Anthony Barnes, of Boston, Massachusetts, is a free-lance writer who leans toward the progressive end of the political spectrum. "When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to (more...)
 
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