fb-pixel
Commentary

About that dissonant Jack Nicklaus endorsement of Donald Trump

President Trump
President TrumpSpencer Platt/Photographer: Spencer Platt/Gett

President Trump probably wishes golf legend Jack Nicklaus and rapper Lil Wayne thought twice before hitting send on those tweets.

Not that Trump doesn’t appreciate the endorsement of an 80-year-old multimillionaire who has spent his whole life on a golf course. That’s very on-brand for a president who gave the country-club crowd a fat tax break.

And even if Trump can’t name a single track on Lil Wayne’s 2005 masterpiece “Tha Carter II,” he’s no doubt grateful to get a high-five from the hip-hop star, who tweeted this week that he had a “great meeting” with the president.

“The platinum plan is going to give the community real ownership,” Lil Wayne tweeted, referring to Trump’s plan to expand school choice and improve economic opportunity in the Black community.

Advertisement



Trump doesn’t object to celebrity cosigns. He loves to be loved. The Golden Bear is arguably the greatest golfer who ever lived. The guy’s a household name. And Lil Wayne? Whatever the president may think of the rapper’s many facial tattoos and gold-and-diamond teeth, he no doubt respects his enormous wealth.

Asked about the meeting Friday, Trump called Lil Wayne “a really nice guy. . .an activist, in a very positive way.”

The problem is that endorsements sometimes prompt people to vote, and that’s not what Trump wants, is it? The Republicans' approach to voting in this election can be summed up thusly: Less is more. They’re doing everything they can to suppress turnout, at least among people they’re concerned might not vote for their candidate. So when Nicklaus tweeted “Get out and vote,” Trump must have winced.

In the weeks and months leading up to Nov. 3, Republicans have purged voters from registration rolls in several states; sued to prevent the expanded use of ballot drop boxes; removed drop boxes; tried to thwart increased access to absentee ballots; encouraged armed militias to patrol polling places; and propagated suspicion about mail-in ballots.

Advertisement



Does any of that sound like stuff you’d do if you actually wanted people to vote?

But Nicklaus has his reasons to support Trump, and I’m not just talking about the lucrative tax break Trump gave golf-course owners — himself and Nicklaus included — when he became president. No, the man who’s won more majors than any other golfer in history insists it’s not just about money.

“(Trump) has worked for the average person,” tweeted Nicklaus, whose career earnings top $1 billion, according to Forbes.com. “In my opinion he has been more diverse than any president I have seen and has tried to help people from all walks of life - equally.”

I’m not sure what that even means, but OK.

Meanwhile, Lil Wayne isn’t the only rapper who’s expressed support for the president; Ice Cube and 50 Cent have, too. But his approval may be the most predictable. On “Tha Carter II,” there’s a song called “Money On My Mind” in which the self-proclaimed “Best Rapper Alive” says: “I’m a self-made millionaire, (expletive) the public.”

I feel like I’ve heard that somewhere before.

Joe Biden has plenty of celebrity endorsers of his own. A slew of the so-called Hollywood elite have lined up behind the former vice president, including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Madonna, Cardi B, Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Taylor Swift, Cher, and John Legend.

Advertisement



It’s hard to know if the backing of boldfaced names will motivate people to vote, but I’ll bet the Republicans hope not.


Mark Shanahan can be reached at mark.shanahan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MarkAShanahan.