It probably should be said at the outset that there are certainly more important issues going on in the world today. But sometimes it’s beneficial to lighten up a bit – especially after all the rancor and divisiveness of the recent campaign, and on-going commotion surrounding our new President. Perhaps one could level accusations of “fiddling while Rome is burning,” but let’s forge ahead with a brief Washington controversy just for giggles, and to get a window into the weighty matters really taking place in the nation’s capital.
And so, we offer you the dust-up surrounding former President Obama and his efforts to finagle his way into a D.C. Metro-area country club. Not just any country club, Woodmont Country Club, also known as the “Jewish club”. While this may sound a bit 20th Century to some, that’s the way the golf ball still bounces in Washington, DC.
Loosely characterized, there is the Roman Catholic Club, the WASP Club, the Men’s Only Club, the Nouveau Riche Club, and – wait for it – the Jewish Club in the DC Metro area. As a longtime resident of Washington I could identify each of those clubs for you, but then I would have to spend the next six months defending those classifications. Let’s just say, everyone living in DC is aware of these designations and for the most part, they still abide by them.
And then comes Mr. Obama.
One would think a former U.S. President could write his ticket for membership to any club in the country, but the social rules in DC are more than a tad byzantine. And so, his application at Woodmont Country Club is getting some serious blowback by members and the word is out (oh no!) that his membership is in doubt. The Washington Post reported:
Woodmont members are reluctant to discuss the matter publicly. But a string of scorching emails to the club’s president, Barry Forman, made available for The Post’s review by a person with close ties to club members, captures the passions in the debate within the Jewish community over Obama’s approach to the Middle East.
According to the Post, one Woodmont member wrote the following:
“He has created a situation in the world where Israel’s very existence is weakened and possibly threatened . . .” longtime member Faith Goldstein wrote on Dec. 26. “He is not welcome at Woodmont. His admittance would create a storm that could destroy our club.”
Tut. Tut. The controversy is not about the president’s golf game, or as many allege when discussing club memberships – his race — but his policies concerning Israel. Still, Obama has his advocates, even at Woodmont, according to the New York Post:
“We are . . . concerned that the admissions process threatens to become a forum for members to advocate their political beliefs, particularly as they relate to Israel, a topic of increasing polarization in our community,” says a letter from supporters that began circulating Jan. 4.
“There should be no single litmus test when considering the admission of any candidate, and it is our deeply felt view that any former president who meets club membership standards and wishes to join should be encouraged to do so,” the letter states.
Mr. Obama stands in a long line of Presidents who hit the links both in and out of office. According to American Golf, seventeen presidents played golf while in office, with William McKinley being the first to do so in 1897. It seems likely Obama’s membership controversy at Woodmont will die down, and he will eventually get into the club. After all, most DC Country Clubs consider the membership of notable politicians a feather in their cap.
When he does get approval, Mr. Obama will have the privilege of forking over $80,000 to join Woodmont and another $9,673 each year in dues.