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FROM FDR to TIGER WOODS: THE CONSTANT THREAD OF MANUFACTURE

It took me twenty years to un-love Jack Kennedy…then another five apologizing to Jackie for blaming her for Jack’s cheating. Only when his infidelities turned to promiscuity, and a national security risk, did I finally go to my closet for a private talk, and acknowledge that a cold shrewish woman did not create this.
My older sister still has not taken that trek to the closet.

It only took three days this time around…to un-love Tiger Woods, even though Tiger manifested a hope in us not unlike what Jack Kennedy did in 1960; a man who had not just risen, but been raised to rise above mere celebrity and stardom. Only better, Tiger was us, from the humblest of origins, a black father and a Thai mother. No royalty, even John Kerry’s self-declared kind, could be found anywhere in his pedigree. Tiger’s dad, Earl, was as much a hero to my generation as Tiger was to my children; a military man who grabbed hold of all the blessings the military culture could offer, (and which the civilian culture could not) and turned his little half-breed son into the greatest golfer of all time.
I can’t say what will happen to Tiger Woods from here on out. That depends on just how deeply he was attached to the false personna that has been laid bare in recent days.
Tiger is still a young kid, but also a man. I can’t know if the vows he originally took meant anything on Day One, or if like Jack Kennedy, he was always on the prowl, and they were only so many empty mutterings.
But I do know he may never win another tournament. I said “tournament”, not major.  For Tiger has not just been unmasked in front of the world. Much worse, he may have been unmasked in front of his own mirror. Time will tell. He may dump the wife, and pass the kids over to a lifetime of high-priced nannies and boarding schools, or he can genuinely repent and try to save his marriage and his children. He is at that crossroads, and in my own opinion, he can only save his golfing career by choosing to save his family along with it.
Only, we won’t know for at least ten years what is genuine about Tiger Woods anymore.

When someone finds himself at the foot of the Cross, all I can do is wish him well, and pass him over to God’s mercy…if he asks for it.

But what I can do is once again investigate the method of manufacture of the “dream” athlete, or politician, or public personality and inquire as to how it happens, what are its inevitable consequences, and what can be done to prevent it. (Once I see a trend, I’m heavy into prevention these days.)
You see, I’m not a presidential historian, but I know someone at CBS or NBC, and not the White House, decided it was best for the American people to believe that Franklin Roosevelt was a whole man who could stand upright and walk (but who also smoked..no big deal in those days) rather than a very smart, courageous man who did not let a wheelchair disadvantage him in any way…(as long as there was a little ashtray always nearby).
I also know that had the American people found a way to bring a law suit against Ben Bradlee personally and the Washington Post generally, American history would be entirely different now. For you see, for reasons that were personal to them, they manufactured John Kennedy in a perverse manner that has never been explained to me very well. Just why did Ben Bradlee think, in the middle of the Cold War, that Jack’s unquenchable promiscuity would not interfere in his effectively carrying out the duties of President of the United States? Or was it, as we have seen time and again, that once the error was known (possibly even before the election in 1960) vanity, the personal vanity of the king-makers in the press, decided to press forward…rather than be revealed?
Hold that thought, for the effective packaging and sale of JFK and Camelot-the-Lie to the American public, not Watergate, was the seminal moment of media power in America. To let it pass would have been a travesty. Indeed, the media gained more by JFK’s death (are you listening Barry?) than any other wing of American politics. (Mark Lane, call your office.) JFK’s sainthood sealed their place of power.
But had we (the People) sued, and I argued we could have, things might have turned out differently. There may never have been a “lost generation” in the 1960s, a lost generation who hated America for reasons only a psychiatrist could detail now. And no Nixon, or Carter…nor maybe even a Reagan. (Sky determines, and Carter did begat Ronnie.) Bill and Hil  might have tried to beat George Corley and Lurlene’s record for consecutive gubernatorial reigns…instead of, you know. Or maybe it would be Senator Clinton (the guy) who would be making senator sandwiches with Chris Dodd down at the La Brasserie, instead of Teddy.
Who knows?
What we do know is that Jack Kennedy was an unmitigated success for his manufacturers..from lech to saint in less than thirty seconds. And that success with Jack eventually begat Bill, who turned out to be a security threat almost as dangerous as Jack. I still see an orange jumpsuit in his future. (Sorry, I just do.) If only the Soviets had known to plant their sleepers in trailer parks, and dress them in peddle-pushers, high heels and high hair…but wait, there was no Soviet Union. Right, there had been a Republican before him.
And now we have Barack H Obama. The sadness, of course, is that Jack Kennedy never got the chance Tiger Woods now has, and that is to re-evaluate his situation by being publicly unmasked. Just watch your back, Tiger. And Barry, you too. JFK’s assassination actually improved his manufacturers’ hand, for had he been exposed alive, their lie would have been exposed as well.
In Barack H Obama the media has found their new JFK…urbane, sophisticated, intelligent, well spoken, the proper gate keeper for their new Camelot, including the most important ingredient…an empty suit.
So, it’s time to worry, Mr Obama, for you are the emptiest of suits. Hie to your closet!
But for Tiger, it’s not such a hard choice after all is it; being allowed to endure that gaze in the shaving mirror each morning. Thank your lucky star you can still flee to the bathroom. Thank your lucky stars you ain’t president.
Vassar Bushmills

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