Book Party Review–“Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump”

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My tremendous jet-setting ways landed me at a book party this evening for Rick Reilly, the celebrated ESPN talent whose new book, Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump, has garnered significant amounts of attention and favorable reviews. I of course have not yet had time to read the book—having just purchased it this evening, at the book event—but sometimes, one actually can judge a book by its cover, and doubtless, gentle readers, you have all figured out that this book is about Trump cheating at golf and about what Trump’s predilection for cheating say about how we can judge him as a pitiful human being and as a garbage president of the United States.

Notwithstanding the fact that the audience was overwhelmingly—actually, who are we kidding; probably entirely—anti-Trump, Reilly’s stories about Trump cheating at golf, cheating his friends, inflating his skills and standing by artificially deflating his handicap, and inflating the number of club championships he “won” actually managed to draw gasps of surprise and disgust from members of the audience—people who one might have thought had grown numb to Trump’s never-ending displays of stupidity, sub-humanity and all-around immorality in our #lolnothingmatters culture. Reilly contrasted his reverence for golf—and that of members of his family—with Trump’s utter irreverence and disregard for anything and everything other than himself. Even though our culture and lives have been saturated by news and evidence of Trump’s manifest inability to be a decent human being (let alone a president of the United States), Reilly still was able to give those attending his book party a unique (and appalling) insight into the character (or lack thereof) of the 45th president of the United States. A revealing non-golf story: Trump once introduced Reilly to Melania Trump, who at the time was Trump’s girlfriend. After the introductions, Trump insisted that Reilly give Melania the once-over, from her head to her toes, with Melania standing right in front of Reilly, hearing her then-boyfriend encourage Reilly to check Melania out. After Reilly jerked his head up and down as fast as humanly possible—because, like normal people, he found treating a woman like a piece of meat disgusting and degrading—Trump then enthused to Reilly that “everything’s real,” in offering (off) color commentary regarding the physical attributes of the now-first lady of the United States.

Feel free to excuse yourself and retch into the nearest toilet.

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Back again? Awesome. Let me write some more about this event.

When it came time for questions, I decided to play devil’s advocate and challenge Reilly. I asked what he would say to a Trumpkin who might hear of Trump’s pathetic and childish need to cheat at golf, and might respond with “I’m still winning to vote for Trump because of tax cuts/judges/tariffs/allegedly making American great again.” Reilly responded by quoting from his book. Here is the passage he read to all of us:

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I suppose it is worth noting that the crowd at the book party was well-to-do, by all appearances, and that the atmosphere was not . . . shall we say . . . non-festive. I mean, it was a party. There were drinks served. Those drinks contained alcohol. People were in a good mood, and were having a good time. And perhaps, just perhaps, some people there were not thinking past Trump’s tortured relationship with golf and how Reilly’s stories make Trump look like the especially ridiculous buffoon that he is. Perhaps, for some people, the discussion and subject was comical, but nothing more than that.

And to be sure, I enjoyed the event as well. After all, I got an autographed copy of Reilly’s book, and everything.

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Cool stuff, right? Well, yes, it actually is. I’m not going to lie; I got something of a kick out of getting Rick Reilly to autograph my book. He’s a nice guy, and I like the fact that I got a little something from a nice guy—who also happens to be famous.

But just because I attended a party, and just because there were alcoholic drinks served, and just because much—or most—of the conversation was about Trump and golf, and just because I got Rick Reilly’s autograph and got a kick out of getting Rick Reilly’s autograph, does not mean that there are not more serious issues to consider when contemplating Trump the kinda-sorta-man and Trump the to-our-eternal-shame-president. Recall the last paragraph of the passage from Reilly’s book, featured above: “If you’re adamant that the poor don’t deserve golf, is it that much further to think they don’t deserve health care, clean air, safe schools?”

Have you read that again? Excellent. Now, read this about the existence of—and conditions in—concentration camps (yes, concentration camps) in the United States of America.

In our country. This is what is happening in our country:

A 14-year old told us she was taking care of a 4-year old who had been placed in her cell with no relatives. “I take her to the bathroom, give her my extra food if she is hungry, and tell people to leave her alone if they are bothering her,” she said.

She was just one of the children we talked with last week as part of a team of lawyers and doctors monitoring conditions for children in US border facilities. We have been speaking out urgently, since then, about the devastating and abusive circumstances we’ve found. The Trump administration claims it needs even more detention facilities to address the issue, but policy makers and the public should not be fooled into believing this is the answer.

The situation we found is unacceptable. US Border Patrol is holding many children, including some who are much too young to take care of themselves, in jail-like border facilities for weeks at a time without contact with family members, regular access to showers, clean clothes, toothbrushes, or proper beds. Many are sick. Many, including children as young as 2 or 3, have been separated from adult caretakers without any provisions for their care besides the unrelated older children also being held in detention.

We spoke with an 11-year-old caring for his toddler brother. Both were fending for themselves in a cell with dozens of other children. The little one was quiet with matted hair, a hacking cough, muddy pants and eyes that fluttered closed with fatigue. As we interviewed the two brothers, he fell asleep on two office chairs drawn together, probably the most comfortable bed he had used in weeks. They had been separated from an 18-year-old uncle and sent to the Clint Border Patrol Station. When we met them, they had been there three weeks and counting.

[. . .]

Based on our interviews, officials at the border seem to be making no effort to release children to caregivers– many have parents in the US — rather than holding them for weeks in overcrowded cells at the border, incommunicado from their desperate loved ones. By holding and then transferring them down the line to ORR facilities, the government is turning children into pawns for immigration enforcement.

A second-grader we interviewed entered the room silently but burst into tears when we asked who she traveled with to the US. “My aunt,” she said, with a keening cry. A bracelet on her wrist had the words “US parent” and a phone number written in permanent marker. We called the number on the spot and found out that no one had informed her desperate parents where she was being held. Some of the most emotional moments of our visit came witnessing children speak for the first time with their parents on an attorney’s phone.

It may actually be too much to say that cheating at golf leads to a willingness to arrange for children to be held in inhumane conditions at American concentration camps. Indeed, let’s go ahead and say that lying about a golf lie—or about anything else relating to golf—does not automatically translate to a willingness to violate any and all standards of human decency when it comes to dealing with migrant children.

But it is not too much to say the following: Donald Trump is a horrible, repulsive, despicable excuse for a human being, and his horrible, repulsive, despicable character and personality is made manifest in all sorts of ways. It is surely made manifest when playing golf. It is also made manifest in his willingness to charge taxpayers exorbitantly to travel to golf courses he owns in order to play golf, instead of, you know, doing his job. It is also made manifest in his treatment of women (and of course, Trump’s treatment of women is hardly an old scandal). It is also made manifest in his willingness to encourage violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause so that Trump and his businesses can make money off of the presidency of the United States. It is also made manifest in Trump’s stupid trade and foreign policy decisions, which deprive the United States of allies, encourage our adversaries, undermine our national security and impose taxes on American consumers (we all know that tariffs are taxes on American consumers, right?). It is also made manifest in Trump’s willingness to leave elections vulnerable to foreign hacking, because Trump probably wants to benefit from Russian interference in our elections again. It is also made manifest in Trump’s willingness to promote the worst possible people to government positions, and to leave a host of positions without permanent officeholders, thus throwing a host of cabinet departments and executive agencies into a state of permanent chaos. It is also made manifest by Trump’s willingness to pay off porn stars so that they don’t talk about their affairs with him—those payments constitute campaign finance violations, by the way. And it is also made manifest by a host of Trumpian activities that warrant impeachment and conviction, and would have already subjected Trump to indictment by the Department of Justice were it not for the fact that back in 1973, the department’s Office of Legal Counsel concluded that a sitting president cannot be indicted.

Here is one more passage from Reilly’s book:

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I’m glad that I am not weighed down by the mental and emotional ills that afflict Donald Trump, or by the deficiencies found in his character and soul. Reading Reilly’s words—and having him read them to us—makes abundantly clear how much wealthier I am than Donald Trump, no matter what is in his bank account, or what is in mine. I rather like being who I am. So, for that matter, do a lot of people. By contrast, Donald Trump, for all of his bragging, boasting, and ridiculous lies and exaggerations, offered for the purpose of self-promotion and self-glorification, quite plainly hates being who he is—thus the need to brag, boast, and offer ridiculous lies and exaggerations for the purpose of self-promotion and self-glorification. Donald Trump is a fantastically stupid human-resembling-thing, but for all of his stupidity, he is not so stupid as to be unaware of his many fatal deficiencies and flaws. No matter how much bragging, boasting, and ridiculous lies and exaggerations, offered for the purpose of self-promotion and self-glorification, issued by the 45th president of the United States, there just has to be a tiny, but insistent voice, sounding in Donald Trump’s head, reminding him that no amount of hype and publicity can hide the fact that Trump is evil, moronic, incompetent, buffoonish and repulsive. Donald Trump has bought more trophies at pawn shops than one can shake a stick at. All of them reflect the face of a loser, and deep down, the alleged “Very Stable Genius” is painfully aware of the fact that he is a loser of epic proportions.

The question facing us is the same question that has faced us since January 20, 2017: How much longer do the rest of us have to pay for Donald Trump’s mental and emotional deficiencies? We are by no means a perfect country. We, as a country, have our own flaws, our own deficiencies, our own shortcomings and weaknesses.

But we are still a great nation—and always have been; Trump’s “Make America Great Again” garbage notwithstanding. And we deserve better than to have a failed human-resembling-thing saddle us with a failed and still-failing president. To complete the golf analogy, impeachment, conviction, and/or the 2020 election cycle offer this country a mulligan. We should take that mulligan as soon as possible.

And while none of us should get our hopes up, perhaps we’ll be able to take that mulligan soon.

Stranger things have happened.

(Cross-posted here and here.)

(Photo Credits: Me.)

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