Resentment is a powerful emotion. It can choke off reason and poison even moments of triumph. And it plays hell with self-awareness — just look at the November 18th Washington Post “perspective” piece (oh the irony) by Robin Givhan.
Givhan is the Post’s “senior critic-at-large writing about politics, race and the arts.” (If race is an official part of your portfolio, resentment is a core competency.) And President Trump really, really irks her. Specifically, at the moment, she’s bothered by his golf game.
Since the election, Trump has spent too much time golfing and not enough time conceding for Givhan’s taste. Photos of the president at his Virginia golf club annoy her. “Trump is the unmasked duffer clutching the wheel of a golf cart, zipping over knolls while his caddie — also unmasked — hangs off the back.”
Sure, remarking on POTUS not wearing a mask in a situation where nobody wears one is petty and “Karenish.” But Givhan wants us to know her resentment is more profound. She objects to Trump’s display of (altogether now!) “white male privilege.”
“The picture of a well-fed White man in a golf cart at a private club,” she writes, “is a familiar trope in film and literature that has long been used to telegraph a narrative about fat-cat economics, stifling social hierarchies and inherited advantages.” So why not trot it out one more time for a shot at Trump?
It’s a classic metaphor for privilege and disregard — and sometimes establishment ineptness — and one that is also terribly apt for Trump. While a pandemic rages across the country, the president works on his swing. While images of unemployed Americans in seemingly endless food lines sear painful scars into our national psyche, the president is a man at leisure, rolling across the lush, manicured greenery of his private playground while his supporters cheer him on from outside the secure perimeter — and his critics protest.
What makes this particularly rich is that Givhan includes a typically self-regarding Instagram post from Michelle Obama congratulating herself for being civil to Melania Trump during the 2016 transition. Where could Michelle’s husband like as not be found during his White House tenure? The golf course. Barry played 333 times as president. Which kind of privilege was he displaying?
Givhan also acknowledges those notably graceful losers Hillary Clinton and Stacy Abrams — you know, the one who still maintains she’s governor of Georgia.
Givhan also couldn’t resist a jab at the unwashed who inflicted Trump on nice people like her, the “thousands of Trump supporters to the streets of the nation’s capital in their “Make America Great Again” gear and with their flags hoisted high, rubbing shoulders with members of hate groups because they believed the current president — the birther president — was righteous in his denial of his loss at the polls.”
Who let the riff raff inside the Beltway?
“White male privilege is powerful,” Givhan writes. “It overrides facts. It excuses horrendous behavior. It exalts the unqualified.”
Funny. So does resentment.