Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Rules Of Golf, Executive Orders and President Obama

'Forget the Rules of Golf!
They are old and decrepit anyway!'
Dan Jenkins got into some hot water recently with his not-so-veiled 'fake' interview with Tiger Woods in Golf Digest.

It is always tough to try to make a point with sports analogies. Something always doesn't line up exactly.

However, President Obama's obsession with playing golf during his presidential terms provides a pretty good backdrop to try to put his executive order on immigration into something more people can understand than the arcane nuances of constitutional law and immigration policy.

The Rules of Golf are sacrosanct to any serious golfer. Violating them is the worst thing you can do.

You know what the ONLY sport there is where the participant is not only required but expected to report infractions on his/herself as opposed to being rewarded for trying to 'get away with bending the rules' to win?'

Right. Golf.

Professional players regularly call 1-or-2 stroke penalties on themselves when the ball imperceptibly moved upon addressing it that even the caddy right next to him/her did not see.

You never see a pro football player tell the ref that he punched a guy in the stomach first which led to the altercation that resulted in the other guy from the other team being tossed out of the game. Or the basketball player who touched the ball last as it was going out of bounds telling the ref: 'My bad. I touched it. Give it to the other team, ref!'

Golf is just 'different' that way. People who love the game love it because it brings out the best of us...when we play by the rules, for better or for worse.

'Constitutional law' is similar to the Rules of Golf. The Founders wrote them with every hope and intention that the elected officials who followed them would: A) Read them first; B) Understand them second and C) Abide by them for the good of the nation.

A United States of America without laws and regular order, proper constitutional procedure is not going to be 'The' United States of America for very long.

Walter Dellinger of the Duke Law School, and a long-time Democrat legal counsel to various Presidents, has written a defense of Obama's executive action that Slate Magazine chose to title 'There's No Legal Basis For The Belief That Obama's Immigration Order is Controversial'.

Written like a true lawyer. Note the word 'legal' before basis. There is a difference between something being 'legal' and 'right' you know. Sadly.

Of course Mr. Dellinger is going to defend a Democrat President in the White House with 'legal' jargon.

What about the question: 'Is there any basis for Obama's immigration order being controversial and at odds with the Constitution and the 'rules of engagement' between Capitol Hill and the White House?'

Of course there is. It is silly to think otherwise. As long as there is an opposition party running the US Senate and Congress, anything any POTUS does will be 'controversial'.

'The President proposes; the Congress disposes' goes the old saying. That is the very shortest way of saying that the Founders wrote the Constitution with the Legislative Branch being Article #1 because they wanted the power of the people to make important public policy decisions such as on immigration to reside in a raucous, fractious group of 435 people in the House and 100 in the Senate rather than rest solely in the power of one man sitting on a gold-plated throne with a crown on his head in the White House.

With that in mind, let's take a trip to down the golf course with President Obama and see how he might 'interpret' the rules of golf which will then give us some insight into how he must be seeing the Constitution with not only this executive order but his entire Presidency:

'You're up, Mr. President! Hit 'em straight!'

'I'll try! We are hitting a mulligan off the first tee, right?'

'Well, that is not in the Rules of Golf but many people do that so I guess that is ok this one time.'

'You know that besides being a constitutional law professor, I was also the coach of the golf team as well at Occidental, Columbia and Yale Law School.'

'I did not know that.'

'Yeah, but just like the Constitution, I think the Rules of Golf were written for a different time and different place with a very heavy emphasis on Anglo-European Caucasian philosophy and privilege.'

'Uhh...I think it was started by a bunch of sheepherders in Scotland who batted some ball stuffed with feathers around with a club stick on an open range for something more fun to do than tending sheep'

'Whatever. I think the Rules of Golf, just like the Constitution, needs to be adjusted for modern times. We can't always be straight-jacketed by what convention in the 18th or 16th century said way back then.'

'Like what, pray tell?'

'For example: sandtraps. Why should anyone ever be penalized for hitting a perfectly good golf shot that just happens to roll off the green into a bunker? I just kick the ball out of the traps whenever I feel like it so I can get a good clean shot to the hole'

'But that is cheating, Mr. President! You can't improve your lie or go anywhere nearer to the hole on any shot!'

'Who says? You may say that and the Rules of Golf say that but I am President of the United States of America and I say that I can move my ball out of the sandtrap if I want to. 

Elections Matter you know.'

'They sure do, Mr. President. You have lost the House and the Senate to the Republicans in the last 3 elections so apparently the American people don't like what you are doing'

'Doesn't matter. I still have my pen and cell phone and I can do executive orders all I want. As a matter of fact, I think I will just sign an executive order right now and allow 5 million people to sneak on all the private and public golf courses tomorrow and play without paying greens fees or even knowing how to play golf in the first place'

'Don't you want to work with the Republicans in Congress, Mr. President?'

'Not if they don't do exactly what I want in the first place as they write legislation. Why bother with them when I am going to veto everything they want to do in the first place? 

'Hey, Mr. President! I notice that you are driving a golf cart. Why don't you just walk and carry your own bag or get a caddy? Doesn't driving a golf cart contribute to global warming and all that?'

'I don't need the exercise, friend! See how skinny and athletic I look? You on the other hand look like you need to take a hike!'

'Hey! You just hit your shot into the creek on the right, Mr. President. That is a 1-shot penalty you know for going into a lateral hazard.'

'I didn't know anything about that. No one ever told me about that before. The first I heard about it was from the news media, just like you did. Josh Earnest will say so.'

'It is in the Rules of Golf, Mr. Golf Coach. Thought you knew the Rules of Golf there, Mr. President!'

'Well, I am just gonna put throw another ball down next to the creek and hit it without penalty, bub! What are you gonna do about it? And how did you get in my foursome anyway?'

'Good question, Mr. President. Good. Question.'

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