Behavior for Dummies 101
By now, everyone with breath enough to fog a mirror is aware of the plummet of Tiger Woods from being one of the world’s most admired sports figures to a point where advertisers are fleeing faster than a golfer being pursued by an irate spouse wielding a two-iron. (She must not be a golfer. Real golfers know you can’t hit anything with a two-iron.)
While top athletes might train from childhood to go to the top of their sport, does anyone train them on how to behave once they get there? The colorful covers of the tabloids glimpsed along the grocery store check-out lines (I’ve never seen anyone actually buy one) are chock-a-block with stories about celebrity hormones getting in the way of common sense.
This is not intended as an apologia for the coarse off-the-course behavior of Mr. Woods or for the sports reporters who put profit above principle and covered up what they had to know about Tigers after-hours behavior. Tiger Woods, Inc. was big business. He was the first athlete to amass over $1 billion dollars in earnings. The golf reporters were cashing in on his pure-as-the-driven-snow image.
His Horatio Alger-like literally changed the face of golf. He gave hope to every child, of every color. When Tiger, the model husband and father, chose to play in a tournament, its TV ratings went through the roof. But now, we see it was not "hope and change," but "hoax and change." Parents, who offered Tiger to their kids as a role model, have been duped. Cancel the kids’ golf lessons. Cancel the order for that set of clubs.
Maybe there should be a school for celebrities to teach them about the perils of stardom. For example, to warn them about the groupies who show up at hotels where ball teams or individual star athletes or rock stars are known to stay.
The late Perry Como, a former altar boy, knew how to handle his “admirers.” When The Perry Como Show was at the top of the TV charts, the taping was done in New York City. But Mr. Como lived on Long Island. That meant he had to drive to New York to spend a couple of nights each week in a hotel suite.
Bringing his parish priest along with him, Perry would rent a big suite in a downtown Manhattan hotel. Knocks on the door were answered by Perry’s priest, wearing his Roman collar. Yikes!
Occasionally, some general officers have gotten into trouble by misusing their government-assigned aircraft or other wrong-doing. Learning from such mistakes, the Army has a “charm school” for newly-minted one-star generals. Once the brigadiers are assembled in the Pentagon, they are exposed to case studies about general officers who have gotten into trouble in various ways.
Some politicians could use a civilian version of the Army’s “charm school.” For example, elected officials who are thought to be on the rise to higher office can be the targets of political opposition researchers seeking to do “negative campaigning” or, even more ominously, they can be the targets of foreign intelligence operations.
Let’s say there’s this country-bumpkin elected official – he’s like Mark Twain’s “innocents abroad”—who is suddenly in the presence of a gorgeous, sophisticated woman who speaks English better than he does, plus a half-dozen other languages. Her beauty is so dazzling that when she enters a room all the males tuck in their tummies. Despite a lovely wife and a fine family back home, he gets involved in a heels-over-head love affair.
For those who have been in the intelligence trade, it is easy to imagine that the femme fatale might have been a “dangle” in front of an elected official who might rise someday to high elective office -- a potential Manchurian or even Kenyan Kandidate, if you will. It’s been known to happen.
As for Tiger, let those who are without sin cast the first two-iron.
Nationally syndicated columnist and retired Army officer, William Hamilton, is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Naval War College, a former Research Fellow at the U.S. Army War College, and a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO).
©2009. William Hamilton.