This is a question that divorce attorneys rarely get to ask their clients. In divorce cases, the usual questions we have are: Where do you reside (for purposes of jurisdiction)? When were you married? How many assets did you accumulate together?
But rarely do we ask: what were you thinking. Admittedly, the answer is not all that important for purposes of representation. Such information is generally not relevant in divorce proceedings. Plus, it is not professional (or even necessary) for a lawyer to judge his client’s thinking or conduct. We all make mistakes and a lawyer owes a fiduciary duty to his client.
But on this blog, at least, I can ask Tiger Woods: what in the name of Lady Justice were you thinking when you cheated with a parade of not-so-trustworthy women? How could you have led those women to think that they (each of them) had a future with you? Seriously, were you hoping to clone yourself at some point?
As a disclaimer, we cannot verify the truth of any of the allegations about Tiger Woods right now. We can only say what is being reported about him as a public figure. He is innocent until proven otherwise (or until an incriminating voice mail message sounding exactly like his gets played and replayed by every media outlet from the local news to Bill O’Reilly). The infamous voice mail, as first reported in US Magazine and blogged about in the Huffington Post complete with audio, goes something like this:
Hey, it’s Tiger. I need you to do me a huge favor. Can you please take your name off your phone? My wife went through my phone and may be calling you. So if you can, please take your name off that. Just have it as a number on the voicemail, just have it as your telephone number. You got to do this for me. Huge. Quickly. Bye.
Seriously, Tiger, what were you thinking? We may never know, unfortunately. His counsel may never get to ask either, assuming Tiger Woods has retained counsel to evaluate issues such as divorce, custody, and support.
A more broad question for ourselves (as we follow this story) is: why is this particular story so compelling? For this writer, the compelling nature of Tiger Woods’ current saga has nothing to do with his money, his fame, or the “fallen hero” sub-plot we keep hearing. Those are just topics to fill news columns while the story remains red-hot on the forefront of peoples’ minds.
The real issue is control…or lack of it.
How could someone so rich, famous, and disciplined in the precision sport of golf lose control over not only his marriage, but also the nature in which the public learns of his ongoing pattern of antics? Did he really think that his true lifestyle would remain a secret indefinitely? How could someone so hard working and dedicated to his craft let his life spin out of control so quickly?
He desperately needed (and still needs) to take control of this story about himself, if only to deflate the suspense that continues to build. From the beginning, all he had to do was give the media something — some fact or revelation. But he lost the opportunity to score a few points because he stonewalled. In fact, he never did come clean. He merely admitted to vague indiscretions after the above voice mail surfaced.
And the public remains in suspense about how far Tiger Woods will fall. Will he come to terms with his new public image? Contrast Tiger Woods’ bungling in this case versuse the stark admissions by Hugh Grant (on the Tonight Show) and David Letterman (on his own program). These days, Hugh Grant has a new movie coming out. David Letterman is winning the late night battle for ratings.
Tiger Woods, on the other hand, has exited the sport of golf…by choice. Granted, Tiger Woods still has time. But he keeps making things worse. His decision to leave the golfing world only raises a new questions: when will he return? Once he returns, will he play at the same level he once did? The above questions could have been avoided if Tiger Woods had just committed himself to doing what he does best: being great on the golf course.
On second thought, maybe this writer has it all wrong. Maybe Tiger Woods is, and always was, in control. Perhaps he wanted the story to come out the way it did. This could be no different than Tom Cruise’s couch jumping antics on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Maybe Tiger Woods is really saying:
“Leave me alone. Can’t I just be myself? I was scared to tell you that I’m not perfect. You’re a fool for thinking I was perfect, anyway. You watched me play golf and give a few short interviews after each game. You saw me on TV. Big deal. Somehow it was enough for you to buy more than your usual share of products by Gillette and Nike, merely by seeing my face in the ads. Maybe you’re the one who should ask yourself:
What were you thinking?