June 6, 2006

Your Weekly Reeder: Ky. pols should spend more time on the golf course

 I probably should wait until Fancy Farm to do this, but I’ve decided to go ahead and announce my plan for cleaning up the messes in Frankfort and Washington. It’s a strategery that every right-thinking (or left-thinking, for that matter) citizen can get behind. I’m going to crusade for a constitutional amendment to make our elected leaders start playing by the customs and traditions of golf.I freely admit that I have a personal stake in this. I’m trying to save the careers of political columnists and cartoonists. After all, what’s the point of ridiculing politicians as partisan fools when they do such a breath-taking job of it themselves? When every day they venture into unexplored areas of stupidity that even the most clever of us could never conjure up in our wildest dreams?Here in Kentucky, we now have a sitcom in our state capitol. It’s so bizarre that it makes you laugh — or cry — until your sides hurt. The building now is occupied by three warring camps who hate each other’s guts and want to destroy each other’s political careers.Trying to pick the good guy from a lineup of Gov. Ernie Fletcher, Lt. Gov. Steve Pence and Attorney General Greg Stumbo is a waste of time, not to mention a trick question. They’re all guilty of putting politics ahead of the people’s business. It’s just a matter of degree.They’ve elevated back-stabbing into the official state sport and slapstick into the official state comedy routine. They’re so heavy-handed that they make the Three Stooges look subtle. The only mystery is why you can’t see Mitch McConnell’s lips move whenever Pence talks.So the only solution is for the public to mandate that elected leaders must conduct themselves as golfers. If you wish to see this as the unofficial kickoff to the Phil Mickelson for President campaign, so be it.Let me give you a dozen reasons why Frankfort and Washington would be better places if everybody played by the rules of golf:1) Golfers are scrupulously honest. They are the only athletes in professional sports who will call penalties on themselves for picayune rules infractions. They wouldn’t lie or cheat even if they could get away with it.2) Generally, golfers are modest and polite. They respect their opponents and refrain from trash-talking or bragging. Once this was standard operating procedure for all athletes and most politicians. Now it’s only golf.3) Golfers are independent small businessmen who have no long-term, guaranteed contracts. They get only what they earn. This means they’re trying their hardest to succeed every time they address the ball.4) In golf, the line between those who make it and those who don’t is so thin that golfers simply can’t afford to get addicted to alcohol or drugs. You never hear of golfers not named John Daly getting involved in unseemly incidents at bars, strip clubs or gambling casinos.5) Golfers would never attempt to falsify their scorecards the way politicians try to modify or altogether erase their political records.6) As a rule, golfers have an excellent rapport with the media and the public. Not everyone is as lovable as, say, Lee Trevino or Fuzzy Zoeller. But even the introverted ones still are accommodating and accessible.7) Golfers take full responsibility for their decisions and don’t blame anybody but themselves for their mistakes. They take what life dishes out and plays it as it lies.8) Golfers are genuinely polite to each other and strictly adhere to the rules of golf-course etiquette. In politics, it’s all posturing.9) Generally, golfers know and respect the sport’s history and records, and are protective of senior citizens, even those who aren’t legends the caliber of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.10) Golfers do not curse, spit, scratch, grab their crotches or use the word “proactive” in public.11) In golf, terms such as “out of bounds” and “unplayable lie” actually mean something. In politics, they are invitations to cheat.12) Golfers come from so many nations, races and religions that they promote diversity, tolerance and inclusion. They do not waste their time pushing to have the Ten Commandments posted in locker rooms.Personally, I’d be in favor of using a state plane to fly Fletcher, Pence and Stumbo to the U.S. Open when it begins on June 15 at Winged Foot on Long Island. The golfers could teach them a few things about making good decisions, doing things the right way and keeping an honest score.Then I’d have the plane fly home empty. Contact the writer at billyr@leoweekly.com