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Revisiting the Tiger Woods Mess

I first blogged about Tiger Woods, on Wednesday, December 2nd, just a couple of hours after he issued his vague mea culpa on his web site. I thought he’d had one affair, maybe two. I argued we should leave the guy alone, that I didn’t want to know the sordid details, that he never signed up to be anybody’s role model. Well, there have been a few developments since then.

Tiger’s adventures have become a veritable cottage industry. It has been a gift from the heavens for every smarmy tabloid and their web-based cousins and subsidiaries. There are website slide shows revealing a carousel of his alleged girls in various states of dress and undress. E-mails have started to turn up, surely the very tip of what will end up being a deep digital iceberg. The mainstream media is also fully engaged; the satellite-truck circus in full glory, encamped at Tiger’s Florida neighborhood every time someone or another gets carted off in an ambulance for a late night visit to the hospital.

So since I am alive and breathing, I have not been able to escape the alleged sordid details. I say “alleged,” because, believe it or not, although he has been linked to as many as 11 different women, only one has actually confirmed a sexual relationship to this point. If most of these turn out to be confirmed, however, there are several things about this potential pornographic parade that strike me about Tiger’s behavior.

The Carelessness of it All

For one thing, he seemed to be really, really indiscreet. Granted, it is difficult in the digital age not to leave a considerable breadcrumb trail of evidence. The Washington Post’s Monica Hesse has an amusing piece on the dangers of illicit dalliances in this brave new world we are living in. But beyond voice-mails, text messages, e-mails, cell phone cameras and what not, he seemed careless about the type of women he was choosing to be with. Many of them are described as cocktail waitresses and party girls. These don’t seem to me to be the kind of folks who tend to respect confidences. I suppose there are some discreet cocktail waitresses in America, but I also imagine most of that discretion tends to melt away when they are suddenly confronted with their Andy Warhol moment of fame and potential fortune.

The carelessness is a big red flag to me. It signals the feeling of invulnerability, the sense of entitlement that we have seen before in cases of public figures getting nabbed doing the big nasty on the sly. I’ve noticed a lot of women, in particular, are saying he’d better not use the “sexual addiction” excuse if and when he makes his groveling public apology on Oprah. I tend to agree with them. I think this was more a matter of ego and conquest. Kind of like keeping a fancy wine cellar for the expressed purpose of showing off all of your rare vintages. Not that he was walking around arm-in-arm in public with his ladies but he was probably well aware of the notches of hotties he was accumulating on his belt.

Conquests Conspicuously Lacking in Diversity

Columnist Eugene Robinson notes that, using my wine cellar analogy, there appear to be a lot of white wines and not a lot of reds. “The whole Barbie thing,” as he calls it. Robinson theorizes this is evidence Tiger is a total control freak seeking constant validation:

I’m making a big assumption here that the attraction for Woods was mostly physical, but there’s no evidence thus far that he had a lot of time for deep conversation. If adultery is really about the power and satisfaction of conquest, Woods’s self-esteem was apparently only boosted by bedding the kind of woman he thought other men lusted after — the “Playmate of the Month” type that Hugh Hefner turned into the American gold standard.

But the world is full of beautiful women of all colors, shapes and sizes — some with short hair or almond eyes, some with broad noses, some with yellow or brown skin. Woods appears to have bought into an “official” standard of beauty that is so conventional as to be almost oppressive.

Tiger’s Future

So what will become of Tiger? I don’t want to get into the speculation of how he will emerge from this, no doubt advised by the best damage-control experts money can buy. But I do know that if this is just a matter of serial adultery, there have certainly been other public figures who have faced much worse- Bill Clinton for one. I don’t think Tiger will have to go through a full impeachment trial before 100 U.S. Senators. Nor is he yet accused of the kind of unusual escapades that folks like NBC Sports play-by-play announcer, Marv Albert, endured in excruciating detail in a public trial.

As the late Dear Abby used to say, time heals all wounds and wounds all heels. Tiger will do what he has to do to maintain his empire; he will serve some kind of penance for his actions; he is focused enough, I think, to keep his claim as the greatest golfer of all time. Except we will know he is very, very mortal in all other respects.

This too shall pass. And except for TMZ, US Weekly, The National Enquirer, Entertainment Tonight, The Daily Mail, the Daily News, the New York Post and on and on,   for that- the rest of us will be very grateful.

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