03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Golfing with Hillary's Ghost

We've all been there.

A girlfriend decides to marry a guy you've never really been that crazy about, or worse, can't stand. Whether it was because you suspect him of cheating on her while she was away one weekend (or know for a fact that he did), or because he made some comment about her weight during a fight years ago (that you've secretly never forgiven him for), the bottom line is you don't like the guy and simply never will. Even though she's found a way to move on from their "rough patches," you can't or won't. So instead, you agree to show up at the wedding and wear the bridesmaid dress but secretly you hate him, and plan to spend the next five to ten years until their divorce (because you're convinced there will be a divorce) telling anyone who will listen that he's a terrible person and she could have done better.

Welcome to the world of some disgruntled Hillary for President supporters--certainly not all of them, but a vocal, media-friendly minority.

I was reminded of their existence (and their seemingly never-ending grudge) while sifting through coverage of "Golf-gate," the media created controversy regarding who President Obama selects to be his playmates on the golf course and basketball courts. The New York Times felt compelled to devote an entire article to the subject, as have a host of other outlets and bloggers (and yes, now I'm one of them). The award for the most obtuse headline on the topic so far goes to Bonnie Erbe who, writing for US News and World Report online blared, "Obama Not Comfortable with Women in Basketball, Golf...or Anywhere Else." (The headline was not the only obtuse part of the piece. She managed to compare the first black President to former Senator and Mr. Civil Rights himself, Jesse Helms.) The subtext of the coverage is not so subtle at all. As both the New York Times and US News pieces make clear, there are certain women who have never quite trusted President Obama when it comes to women and the issues that matter to them.

It doesn't matter that his primary parental figures, and subsequently the most significant people in his life, were both strong women. It doesn't matter that he married another strong woman. It doesn't matter that his closest adviser is a strong woman. It doesn't matter that he has appointed strong women to his Cabinet or that his first Supreme Court nominee is another strong woman. In the eyes of some, President Obama's unforgivable sin is that he beat a strong woman to the White House--and not just any woman but their hope, their heroine, their girlfriend Hillary.

While Hillary Clinton may have "forgiven" the President, reconciled with him and moved on, and moved in to his Cabinet, there remain some still mourning the presidency that might have been. They may have showed up at the political wedding and pulled the lever for Obama on Election Day--just like their girlfriend asked--but they have made up their minds that they will never like the guy, and will embrace any excuse to validate their suspicions and resentments of him. To put it bluntly, if President Obama by some scientific miracle managed to become the first biological male to give birth on live television, with no anesthesia, there are still some women who would say, "He just doesn't get it."

What's particularly ironic about this conversation is that former President Clinton once faced criticism for golfing at an all white country club, a club he knew to be racially restricted at the time. Yet somehow that little historical tidbit has been all but forgotten in the narrative of the so-called "First Black President." Do I know how many non-white golf buddies Clinton has played with since he disavowed the club? No. Have I given the matter much thought since then? No.

Is who the President spends his leisure time with an interesting topic of discussion? Sure.

But are the anatomical details of the people who the President spends his leisure time with an interesting topic of discussion? Possibly. But in my opinion only if the President's off "hiking the Appalachian Trail" with someone when he ought to be focused on other things, like fixing the economy.

What irritates me most about stories like these is that I hate seeing members of disenfranchised groups (along with members of the media) allow issues that don't really matter, to distract us from the issues that really do. In the last 24 hours:

  • 109 American women died of breast cancer.
  • There were more than 700 sexual assaults in the U.S.
  • 1,440 women worldwide died from childbirth complications.

So while I was excited to hear that Melody Barnes, one of the most gracious people I know in Washington, recently joined the President on the golf course, the coverage her selection generated reminds me of some words of wisdom dispensed right here on the Huffington Post. On the day that the National Organization of Women released a statement critical of David Letterman it was announced that Oklahoma was enacting one of the most disturbing abortion laws of the modern era. One Huffington Post reader wrote simply in the comments section under the Oklahoma story, "N.O.W.--you have bigger fish to fry than David Letterman."

Ladies, we have bigger fish to fry than the President and his golf and basketball buddies. If you don't believe me ask our incredibly capable Secretary of State. After a lifetime spent working on issues that really matter to women, my guess is she'll tell you the same.