I never hated Condoleeza Rice. I thought, at first, that maybe she was not like the other Bushites, maybe had some integrity. I came to reconsider that as the years went on, but I still kept hoping there was something more there. She was smart, educated, cultured, kind of hot. But she’s a continual disappointment, even out of office.
She has a clueless piece today in “The Daily Beast” (whatever that is) about attending the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Apparently she learned to golf a few years ago and is now a big fan. She gushes about the beautiful course, the thrill of competition, Tiger Woods, and “another favorite” of hers, Fuzzy Zoeller (the player who, after Tiger Woods became the first black winner of the Masters Tournament, famously refered to him as “little boy” and joked that he’d better “not serve fried chicken next year, got it? Or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve” at the Champions Dinner).
Somehow she fails to notice that, as a woman, she is ineligible to join the club or play in the tournaments even if she qualified, and that, as a black person, she would have been similarly ineligible within her adult lifetime. Caddies, by rule, were always black; players never were until 1990 (though blacks who qualified for the tournament could play – during Masters Week only – all the way back as far as . . . 1975). The fact that the club threatened to cancel her beloved Masters Tournament entirely just 5 years ago, rather than admit women as members, is apparently fine with her.
It’s not that she’s entirely oblivious to Augusta’s history, or its glacial pace of evolution. It’s just so irrelevant to her that, literally, she can’t seem to find the energy even to mention it, or to say what it is she’s actually talking about in the single sentence of her entire piece that alludes to its past and ongoing history of segregation.
The people are very kind. Clearly, the faces at Augusta are changing as America is changing. But there is a timelessness to it that is very nice.
Tell me, do you really think that racial segregation in 1990 was simply a “very nice” example of “timelessness”? You think the exclusion of women still is? That people who behave that way are “kind” in any legitimate sense – or, I suppose, that being “kind” simply doesn’t mean not being the kind of person who practices segregation? Or finally, perhaps, that’s all just less significant to you than old magnolia and bright green grass? And why is it, again, that women’s issues are so negligible?
It took decades of pressure to force the club to admit blacks a members – which they now claim as a sign of their enlightenment. Women petitioned the club for admission thereafter and were spurned, and the club fought viciously against pro-woman protests as late as 2002 and 2003; no one seems to mind. The club Chair who led the anti-woman fight styles himself a civil rights activist because he had earlier served on the state college desegregation committee; apparently intoxicated by his Days of Rage, and forgetting which side of the barrier he was pretending to be on, this desegregationist hero announced, in the 21st century, that Augusta would not admit female members even “at the point of a bayonet”. The message is seemingly too subtle for a former Secretary of State and Stanford University professor of Political Science.
You could almost make a case for showing up at Augusta in spite of segregation. Certainly her hero, the defiantly apolitical Tiger Woods, did so when he played at the club at a time when they had admitted men like him as members for less than a decade, and women were literally banging at the gates for the same courtesy with no success and no support from Tiger. But to do so you have to notice there’s a problem and be able to openly say so; you have to give a reason for supporting the club in spite of their behavior. But, as a former Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice has no trouble getting any privilege she asks for (when she said she was coming to the Masters, they asked her which player she’d like to follow; this at a club where most guests have to fight massive crowds just to get near the course, and where, I note again, women are not allowed to join at all). And from that perspective she apparently can’t see further than her own personal, indulged and exempted, experience.
Just as she did so often as Bush’s beard, Rice makes herself an apology for racist, sexist old white men’s anxieties, and determinedly forces herself not to notice either what’s going on around her or how she herself is contributing. She even goes out of her way to write about the fact that she spent an entire day at Augusta, knows it’s segregated, and hasn’t got anything to say about that.
Jesus, Condi – the WMDs weren’t enough of an embarrassment? Now you can’t even notice discrimination in Augusta, Georgia? What does it take to get you to see things clearly? What does it take to get you to take a stand on something? I mean . . . a golf tournament? Anything?