Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Nicholas Lemann's New Yorker profile of George W. Bush makes it clear that he's wary of Bush's aggressive radicalism, but it's hard not to sense profound testosterone envy as Lemann writes about Bush's appearance at a golf tournament in 1999:

... the captain of the American Ryder Cup team, Ben Crenshaw, of Austin, Texas, ... had asked Bush to come to Brookline to give the U.S. Ryder Cup team a pep talk if necessary. And, sure enough, the European team opened up what seemed to be an insurmountable lead. On the eve of the last day of the match, Bush came into the room where the team was gathered and, by prearrangement with Crenshaw, recited the text of William Barret Travis's letter from the Alamo.

... "I am besieged by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna," Travis wrote (and Bush repeated to the Ryder Cup team). "I have sustained a continual Bombardment and cannonade for twenty-four hours and have not lost a man. The enemy has demanded surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken. I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, and our flag still waves proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender or retreat.” Travis ends with this unforgettable, triple-underlined kicker: "victory or death."

... In Boston, the day after hearing from Bush, the American team staged a remarkable comeback and won the Ryder Cup.

Wow. Stirring, right? You can tell that this makes Lemann feel like a beta male in comparison.

But here's a part of the '99 Ryder Cup story Lemann left out:

The Daily Mirror headline summed up the British media's bitter reaction to the U.S. victory over Europe in the Ryder Cup:

"United Slobs of America."...

The anti-American outpouring was provoked in particular by the scenes at the 17th green, when players, wives, girlfriends, caddies and spectators rushed out to engulf Leonard after his huge putt.

Leonard's opponent, Spain's Jose Maria Olazabal, had to wait out the celebrations before attempting a 25-foot putt to keep Europe's hopes alive. He missed.

Sam Torrance, Europe's vice captain, called it "the most disgusting thing I've ever seen," and accused American player Tom Lehman in particular of improper behavior....

British papers cited other incidents of "appalling behavior," including a fan shouting at the top of Olazabal's backswing during his approach shot to the 17th green, verbal abuse directed by fans throughout the competition at Colin Montgomerie and spectators sending rookie Andrew Coltart in the wrong direction as he looked for a lost ball.

Montgomerie, a favorite target of U.S. golf fans, said his father left the course Sunday because he was so upset at the "hurtful comments" being directed at his son from the crowd.

Evening Standard said the Americans showed "how to win a Cup but lose all dignity." ...

Mirror said, "Football hooligans act better than the way the Americans have treated the Ryder Cup over the last three days. Their antics whipped the crowd into uncontrollably boorish behavior. Sporting relations between the two nations have now slipped to an all-time low." ...

"The cavalry charge, led by the clear winner in the pass-the-sickbag award, Hal Sutton -- was truly appalling, though, it has to be said, no more gross than most forms of American tribalism," the
Telegraph said.

Guardian ran the headline, "Joy of Ugly Victory brings out the Ugly American."

"The whole distasteful scene was watched by Crenshaw, who did nothing to stop it," the paper said....

Bush arrives on the scene, declares that a conflict is a full-blown war, and what follows is chest-thumping triumphalism, incivility, gratuitous attacks on foreigners, and chaos. Surprised?

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