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David Quigg

David Quigg

Posted: December 21, 2009 03:28 PM

Tiger Woods = Enron (Frank Rich Fights Flimflam With Flimflam)

What's Your Reaction:

If you go on Twitter and type "Frank Rich" into the search box, you will learn that Rich's latest column deserves a Pulitzer. It's today's "MUST READ." Quite simply, it's "gold."

I see it differently.

In "Tiger Woods, Person of the Year," Rich's prose bounds from notion to notion to notion to notion. It's so nimble. We can't help but chase. We rush to keep up. Pulses race. This is fun. We're lightheaded. Why it's almost like being in love. And this is great because breathlessness is just right for this column. Sending the brain sufficient oxygen could only spoil a paragraph like this one:

As of Friday, the Tiger saga had appeared on 20 consecutive New York Post covers. For The Post, his calamity has become as big a story as 9/11. And the paper may well have it right. We've rarely questioned our assumption that 9/11, "the day that changed everything," was the decade's defining event. But in retrospect it may not have been. A con like Tiger's may be more typical of our time than a one-off domestic terrorist attack, however devastating.

OK. Stop. Breathe into this paper bag. Yes, I know you don't want to stop. It's fun. I know. But please. Just give me a minute and then you can play tag with Mr. Rich until I call you in to wash up for supper.

Let's look at that sentence: "A con like Tiger's may be more typical of our time than a one-off domestic terrorist attack, however devastating."

Where to start?

Maybe with this: Have you ever met a person who asserts that 9/11 was "typical"? Yeah, me neither.

Or maybe this: A Martian reading Rich's words and learning about Tiger Woods' "con" would almost certainly emerge from the column believing that Woods got famous on the strength of his claims of being faithful to his wife. (Memo to Martian: Tiger Woods is famous because he's really, really, really, really good at playing a game that lots of Americans spend lots of time, effort, and money striving to play even slightly well.)

Rich laments that "the American establishment and news media -- all of it, not just golf writers or celebrity tabloids -- fell for the Woods myth as hard as any fan and actively helped sustain and enhance it."

This, Rich tells us, is just like what happened with Enron.

So, um, scrutiny.

Scrutiny! Vigilance!

Rich wants it. Scrutiny of Enron. Scrutiny of Tiger Woods. Because if we don't have scrutiny of Tiger Woods, then insiders like Ken Lay will sell off their Tiger Woods stock while small-time investors watch their retirement funds dwindle to zero.

Scrutiny! Vigilance!

Which brings us to Rich's passage about Accenture, a company that's part of Woods' "lustrous stable of corporate sponsors." Here's Rich:

From what I can tell, Accenture is a solid company. But the Daily News columnist Mike Lupica raised a good point when I spoke with him last week: "If Tiger Woods was so important to Accenture, how come I didn't know what Accenture did when they fired him?" According to its Web site, Accenture is "a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company," but who cared about any fine print? It was Tiger, and Tiger was it, and no one was to worry about the details behind the mutually advantageous image-mongering. One would like to assume that Accenture's failure to see or heed any warning signs about a man appearing in 83 percent of its advertising is an anomalous lapse. One would like to believe that business and government clients didn't hire Accenture just because it had Tiger's imprimatur. But in a culture where so many smart people have been taken so often, we can't assume anything.

No, we can't assume anything. We can't assume, for instance, that Rich -- fresh from his critique of the shiftlessness and gullibility of "the American establishment and news media" -- will go deeper into Accenture than "According to its Web site, Accenture is ..."

It's sad, really. Because even something as half-assed as a visit to Wikipedia would have given Rich some great stuff to riff on. Fun fact: "Accenture originated as the business and technology consulting division of accounting firm Arthur Andersen."

Enron's accountants were from Arthur Andersen. Yes, Accenture split from Arthur Andersen before the Enron scandal destroyed Arthur Andersen. But still. Still. Think of what Rich could have done with that. Just think of it. Because Enron is Tiger and Tiger is Enron and there's "suspicion that Obama's brilliant presidential campaign was as hollow as Tiger's public image." And. And. And.

Rich didn't even get a chance to write it. But you can just imagine his words. Notion to notion to notion to notion. So nimble. Almost like being in love. Lightheaded. Pulitzer. MUST READ. Gold.

Huffington Post blogger David Quigg lives in Seattle. This piece originally appeared on his personal blog.