The Yips

I am beginning to think that the Republican Party is feeling a lot like Ernie Els after his humiliating putting adventure yesterday on the first hole of the Masters, one of golf’s greatest championships, at Augusta National Golf Club. As even the most casual observer of golf knows by now, Els, a World Golf Hall of Famer, winner of four major championships and one of the most estimable players in the game, took six putts from within three feet to finally deposit the 1.6 inch spheroid into the 4.25 inch cup.

Admittedly, golf can be an agonizingly difficult experience for even the best players. And the greens at Augusta are more like center ice at Madison Square Garden than the squishy surfaces at your local nine. But Els’ experience was one of the more stark examples of “the yips,” a phenomenon that has afflicted some of the game’s best players and makes men who can routinely smash the ball 300 plus yards with a driver shake like eight year old girls before their first dance recitals at the thought of executing golf’s simplest stroke.

Only 16 months ago, the Republicans were in a similar position to Els, with a host of candidates thought to be eminently qualified to be their Presidential candidate, and needing only a three foot putt to squash the ambitions of presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, once and for all. But along came a bombastic interloper named Donald Trump, who insulted and infuriated his opponents and easily dispatched Jeb (Low Energy) Bush, Ben (with a whimper not a bang) Carson and Scott ( I will stand up to ISIS like I did to the labor unions) Walker to the proverbial showers. “Little” Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee and the others don’t even warrant a footnote in a 60 page law review article.

Now with Trump having the nomination within reach, the party is facing their fifth or sixth putt, desperately throwing their love at Ted Cruz, a man John McCain once called a “wacko bird” and whose chief accomplishment in the Senate was engineering the 2013 government shutdown, as their only hope to stop Trump.

The Democrats should be salivating at their prospects in the general election, but Hillary is slogging her way to the nomination, and remains distrusted by over half the country. She had her own Els moment yesterday, taking five swipes of her MetroCard to navigate the turnstyle of a New York City subway. And Bernie Sanders won’t politely fade away, sounding like Eugene Debs, but living in his long ago Brooklyn past, still thinking you use a token to ride the subway.

So, while Ernie Els’ embarrassment will live on in infamy on Youtube, I am pretty sure he will be remembered as one of golf’s all time greats. But, I am also certain that this Presidential election will not be recalled as one of the country’s finest moments. Can we have a mulligan?

Originally published at