The Trump Tapes: Two very different ways to interpret video of the president scraping up a putt

October 30, 2017

In these divided times, it has become clear that even the most innocuous moments serve as political Rorschach tests—we see in them what we want to see.

Take, for example, this grainy video of President Trump during a Sunday round at his private Virginia club this weekend. Depending on how you feel about the president, you may view this shaky, Zapruder-style NBC News video a couple different ways. Here’s a choose-your-own-adventure approach to how you, dear internet user, might interpret President Trump, the golfer:

Anti-Trump Narrative:

00:01 Ah, here’s our “president,” playing golf again, I see, at one of his exclusive private clubs. It’s not like there’s ANYTHING better he should be doing. This seems like a good use of his time and of our taxpayer money. Did you know Trump’s golf outings have cost Americans more than $75 million? Wow, this game is stupid.

00:04 Looks like he’s chosen grey and navy, too — weren’t those the International Team’s colors at the President’s Cup? And two of the three colors on the Russian flag? Huh. Interesting. Quite a full figure on our President, I may add. Testing the limits of those trousers.

00:06 Marking his ball, probably doing that coin trick where he puts the coin in front of the ball to get a couple inches closer, I’m sure. Did you know Trump cheats at golf? It’s true. I read it in The Washington Post.

00:11 Oh, and he doesn’t even have the respect to watch his playing partners putting? Some etiquette this guy has. So classic.

00:40 He’s going to putt just because he feels like it, even though this other guy looks like he’s ready to go. Of course he is—that, right there, tells you everything you need to know about the man.

00:45 AND he putts with his glove on?!

00:46 Hahahahaha that’s seriously the putting stroke of a man who claimed to shoot 73? Yikes. It’s trash! He chops down at the ball, and then decelerates, flips his hands, and recoils like he’s scared of what he’s just done. Eww.

00:47 Not to mention that he’s doing that thing that your annoying friend does where he hits the putt kind of quickly so if he misses it he can pretend he wasn’t even trying and says “oh, that one was good” and marks down 5 instead of 6 and that guy is the worst.

00:48 Whoa, that’s a downhill putt, looks like it’s going to zoom by the hole and…what’s he doing?? Going after the ball? Picking it up before it comes to a stop? CHEATER! CHEATER! I KNEW HE NEVER SHOT 73! HE LIES ON THE GOLF COURSE AND IN THE WHITE HOUSE I KNEW IT! IMPEACH THIS MAN!

01:03 That other guy made his putt! I bet Trump stinks at golf.

01:10 Did you know that the Secret Service has spent $150k on golf carts this year? DID YOU? THE ICE CAPS ARE MELTING AND NORTH KOREA HAS NUKES AND THE COUNTRY IS FLOODING AND HE’S PLAYING GOLF! Bernie never would have done this.

Pro-Trump Narrative:

00:01 Ah, here’s our President, out for a round at his highly-rated club. Can you imagine how excited these guys must be to play golf with the president? What a thrill!

00:04 Looking smart in that grey sweater and navy pants. And that hat, too. Always repping the red white and blue, no matter where he goes. U-S-A, Mr. President! U-S-A!

00:06 See him marking his ball? Take that, haters. A “cheater” would have just picked it up and called it good. Not our man!

00:11 Can you imagine anyone friendlier or more engaging than this guy, even with all the demands on his time? What a man of the people, always making sure to chat with those around him. So thoughtful. Obama never would have done that.

00:20 I love how there’s very little kneeling in golf. Sitting, sure. And standing. Lots of standing. But no kneeling. Very patriotic in that respect.

00:40 See the way his playing partner was ready to putt, but deferred to the President? That’s called leadership. That’s called having a presence. President Trump wants to putt, so he’s going to putt. Alpha male.

00:45 He’s probably playing quickly because he’s in a two-on-two match and the hole has already been decided. Just a quick tap for fun, to practice, but to make sure he didn’t hold anyone else up. I like that putting setup, too—kind of old school, a bit like Arnold Palmer. He’s made some big time putts—Did you know he has won 19 club championships? It’s true. Just ask him.

00:48 Ah, too bad. Someone must have been distracting him, and besides, he didn’t really care about making that putt anyway. Good to see him scooping up the ball. Pace of play and all. He’s growing the game! MAKE GOLF GREAT AGAIN, MR. PRESIDENT! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

00:50 Whoa, did you see how quickly he moved after that ball? Catlike reflexes. What an athlete! Did you know he shot 73 a couple weeks ago? Lindsey Graham witnessed it! What a clutch performer.

01:20 There he goes, striding proudly off to the next tee, most likely 3 or 4 up. Keep winning, Mr. President! Keep winning!