Rubio the Brilliant Young Golfer

My friend and yours the progressive writer and thinker Rich Yeselson had a great quote (which he’s allowing me to share) on a list-serve yesterday:

You saw the bases of both parties depicted in the media today: The Dem base in Hillary’s video and the GOP base in the crowds at Augusta watching the Masters.

That sure resonated with me. Back in the early 1980s my boss at the time was the token Democrat on some Reagan Administration advisory group, and in that capacity I had to deal with a young Reagan staffer named (you cannot make this up) “Tuppy.” After some desultory talk one day about my boss’ passion for tennis, Tuppy asked about my “tennis game.” “Don’t play it,” I responded. “In that case,” she said, “you must play golf!” And without even thinking about it, I said: “I don’t play any of those Republican sports, Tuppy. I bowl.”

Golf has gotten more “democratic” since my childhood, when you had to belong to–or know someone who belonged to–a country club to play. But still, Rich is right: golf is largely a game for people who itemize tax deductions and tend to think like creditors rather than debtors. And that’s why it was rather hilarious to read Jennifer Rubin’s golf-flavored tribute to Marco Rubio today:

A young, handsome, grateful man makes a splash with an appreciative crowd looking on and millions watching at home with a victory against much older and more experienced competitors. It happened on Sunday with Jordan Spieth at the Masters, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) hopes it happens beginning today, when he announces for president.

Whether it is the Masters or the Apple Watch, Americans like what is new, fresh and fun. They want to be excited by someone who seems deserving of good fortune. They like to root for the nice guy. As The Post puts it, golf “desperately needs a next great star,” and Spieth, with raw talent and personal rectitude (“confident but not arrogant, smart but eager to learn, ferociously competitive but, for his age, remarkably in control of his temper . . . with a sense of non-entitlement”) seems ready to deliver.

So, too, with the GOP, which needs a makeover, not only generationally but also in tone, in focus and in the charisma category. Even the young men (e.g. Sen. Ted Cruz) seem older than they are and certainly embody the angry, harsh attitude for which Republicans have been pilloried.

Well, I won’t argue with that last observation, but will suggest that being the youngest or coolest dude on the course at Augusta National isn’t necessarily a model for a successful presidential candidate.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.