We are staring because we've been had. Betrayed. We see now that the image was all a fraud. The talent was real. But the things that made the public like Tiger personally -- the low-key demeanor, manners, and sweet smile of countless sports-page photos, magazine covers, political analogies, and most important, product endorsements, was an act. That would be betrayal enough. But it wasn't just Woods' act. The larger lesson here is about how much artifice -- sustained, deliberate deception -- goes into the construction of a public persona when there is profit to be made or power to be had.
But enough about Tiger the man, who is, after all, only a golfer. Let's move on to Tiger the metaphor. Because anyone with four functioning brain cells gets that if this comprehensive a charade can be sustained for a decade as Woods and those around him amassed billions, it can happen elsewhere. It can happen right in front of our eyes.
If I were watching the public's disgust with the newly revealed Tiger Woods from an office in the West Wing, I'd be concerned. Because Barack Obama is about as completely manufactured a political character as this nation has seen. His meteoric rise, without the inconvenience of a public record or accomplishments, and the public's willing suspension of critical evaluation of his résumé allowed his handlers and the media to project whatever they wanted to on his unfurrowed brow.