War? But Tiger's in Town!

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tigermania, occasioned by the golf legend's tournament at Congressional Country Club, overwhelmed Washington last week, giving the military, the diplos and the media a bit of a respite from persistently bad news from Iraq and other locales.

For a while, news of the tournament swamped most everything on the Pentagon Web site, sparked by Tiger Woods's gift of 30,000 tickets to military personnel -- his father was a 20-year Army veteran -- and participation of military folks as golf partners and caddies.

On July 6, the Pentagon site's home page rotated half a dozen photos of Woods and the event at the top of the page -- but included one of Gen. Peter Pace's meeting in Florence with the chief of Italy's defense staff to thank him for the nation's "firm support in the war on terrorism." (Of course, they're also pulling their 2,700 troops from Iraq, looking to arrest some CIA guys and putting an American on trial in the shooting of an Italian intelligence officer in Iraq.) There were smaller Tiger photos on the top left of the home page and the top right, as well as a great story about Tiger handing his putter to Army Sgt. Michael Woods, serving as honorary caddy for one hole at the Earl Woods Memorial Pro-Am, and watching Woods drain a 12-footer for a birdie.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, interviewed Sunday at Congressional by the Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman, said she'd been out "for a couple of hours today" and pronounced it "wonderful," despite that close call on the 16th hole when Phil Mickelson's errant drive whizzed by.

Rice said she'd taken up golf in August 2005 -- must have been a slow time -- "and I'm enjoying it immensely. I find it's one of the things that really gets me out, gets my mind clear, and I really enjoy it."

You'd hardly think there was a war going on.

Young People to Chao: Whatever

Labor Secretary Elaine Chao has been in a bit of hot water since the publication Sunday of her interesting observations about American workers and the potential loss of American jobs to overseas workers.

"American employees must be punctual, dress appropriately and have good personal hygiene," says Chao. "They need anger-management and conflict-resolution skills, and they have to be able to accept direction. Too many young people bristle when a supervisor asks them to do something."

The blogosphere was not amused: "Racist" and "corporate toady" were the most polite labels.

Chao's folks said the comments, which were focused not on workers but on kids entering the workforce, were taken way out of context. At the invitation of Parade magazine's editors, they sent a statement yesterday from Chao for Parade's readers that says the article "did not reflect my message."

"It is important that first time entrants to our workforce be aware that" in addition to technical skills and such, "basic professionalism is also essential to advance and contribute in the workplace. These fundamentals -- including punctuality and appropriate workplace decorum -- will affect their future," the statement says.

A Parade representative said that the magazine is giving "her an opportunity to clarify her remarks" on its Web site and that Chao's comments focused on concerns business executives had raised with her.

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