Millions are unemployed and Iran wants nukes, yet the topic du jour on the 2012 presidential campaign trail these days is... August National golf club? Both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have spoken up on the issue this week and now the Obama White House is weighing in on this all-important policy debate -- further proof that no topic is free from politics.
At issue is Augusta National, the historic home of the Masters Tournament and an men-only private club. The club traditionally offers the CEO of IBM a membership, but now that the company's CEO is a woman, Augusta is left conflicted on whether to offer its membership to a woman or continue to exclude ladies from the clubhouse.
"I encourage Augusta to accept women members, but I recognize their right as a private organization to decide for themselves," GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said in a statement e-mailed to reporters Thursday.
Mitt Romney admitted that while it's unlikely he'd ever have the chance to run the famous course, he'd welcome women into Augusta.
Newt Gingrich said his wife, Callista, would make a "great member" as a golfer herself. "Maybe she would let me come and play,” he tweeted.
White House press secretary Jay Carney also weighed in Thursday, saying Barack Obama's "personal opinion" is that "women should be admitted," but acknowledged that it was ultimately "up to the club to decide." We are "long past the time when women should be excluded from anything," Carney explained.
As a woman, I don't really have a problem with Augusta being a men's club. I think there's something nice about maintaining certain environments for boys and others exclusively for girls. I wouldn't demand that Curves (a gym for women) start accommodating men -- it defeats the whole purpose. And by maintaining their gender-oriented standard, I would not classify Curves as "anti-man" any more than I would admonish Augusta National for being "anti-woman." The Girl Scouts are not "anti-boy" and the Boy Scouts aren't "anti-girl" (although some feminists would like to -- and do -- disagree with me).
The fact is that single-sex programs have a place in society, no matter how non-politically correct that may seem. Men's and women's experiences in life are different and it's valuable to society to procure environments where they can explore issues unique to those experiences. It's unfair to bully single-gender institutions into accepting the opposite sex by demonizing them as "sexist" or "outdated," but that's the direction our overly-politically correct society is headed. Girls can now participate in the Boy Scouts and a Girl Scout troop in Colorado grabbed national attention when it admitted a 7-year-old boy who "identified" more as a girl.
There are plenty of other men- and women-only clubs in America, but the Augusta National club is thrust into the national spotlight because IBM and it's female CEO are a prime sponsor of the Masters Tournament. Oh yeah, and because politicians want to exploit and court the female vote.
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