Obama Golfs: How Dare He?

When I saw the Washington Times headline “Obama skips Polish funeral, heads to golf course” via Memeorandum, I had to laugh. After all, Obama was unable to fly to Europe because of the massive volcano ash cloud that has grounded flights across the continent. But, to his credit, Joseph Curl acknowledges that in the first sentence of the piece.

So, why the story, then?  Well, after several paragraphs explaining that some Eastern European leaders managed to get to Poland regardless of the ash, he finally gets to the point:

It is the 32nd time Mr. Obama has played golf since taking office Jan. 20, 2009, according to CBS Radio’s Mark Knoller.

[…]

Mr. Obama has played golf far more often than former President George W. Bush. In his eight years in office, Mr. Bush played just 24 times. His last time as president was Oct. 13, 2003.

He said in 2008 that he gave up golf “in solidarity” with the families of soldiers who were dying in Iraq.  “I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf,” Mr. Bush said in a White House interview Saturday with the Politico. “I feel I owe it to the families to be as — to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.” He stopped playing after he received word of a deadly attack in Iraq while playing golf during a stay at the family ranch near Crawford, Texas.   “They pulled me off the golf course, and I said it’s just not worth it anymore to do,” Mr. Bush said in the interview.

Since Mr. Obama took office, 397 soldiers have died in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Another 151 have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Now, there’s two schools of thought on this issue:  those who say presidents shouldn’t be seen to be having a good time during war and those who say presidents should show their poise by carrying on as usual.   Most have chosen the latter course but either’s fine.

But it’s just silly to argue that the Commander-in-Chief shouldn’t take some time for relaxation when there’s a war on.  Certainly, Bush went back to his Crawford ranch frequently and did other vacation activities.   Leaders need stress relief just like anyone else, if not more so.  One imagines General Petraeus takes time for himself, too.  For all I know, he even gets in the occasional round of golf.   Surely, some of the Joint Chiefs play occasionally.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Military Affairs, US Politics, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Boyd says:

    Made-up issues like this one make it easy to identify the people we should ignore.

  2. Pete says:

    I think it is more important to be reminded of the rank hypocrisy of the MSM and others on the left who howled with derision when Bush did play golf.

  3. just me says:

    Honestly I don’t expect a president to stay locked in the oval office waiting for the big phone call about some attack or other event.

    Everyone deserves to have some leisure.

    However, I do think Bush avoided golf because it is looked at as a “rich man’s leisure” and would have provided fodder for the anti war people to paint him as uncaring or unconcerned. The anti war crowd is unlikely to hold Obama to the same standards as Bush-at least at this point in his presidency.

    I am not sure Bush’s move was due to solidarity so much as it was due to trying to avoid having the media plaster pictures of him playing golf next to articles about dying soldiers.

  4. Tom Mathers says:

    “But it’s just silly to argue that the Commander-in-Chief shouldn’t take some time for relaxation when there’s a war on.”

    Of course it is. And it was when Bush was president too. THAT’s why the article mentioned it, as another of the innumerable examples of the rank hypocrisy in the MSM coverage of W and Bambi.

  5. Kevin says:

    I hope he wasn’t playing golf on the day of the funeral, that would be just another sharp stick to the eye of the Poles. Otherwise, who cares?

  6. Triumph says:

    Obama’s voracious appetite for golf and Bush’s respectful avoidance of it during war illustrate the differences between the two men.

    Unlike Obama, Bush served the country valiantly and heroically during the Viet Nam War, so he knew instinctively that playing golf was an assault on the troops’ sacrifice.

    Obama is a cowardly liberal who avoided service to the country. When he was a Rhodes Scholar in Oxford, he was actively protesting against the US government. While US troops were coming under attack by Greneda during the ’80s, Hussein was a “community organizer.” He doesn’t realize that if it wasn’t for the bravery of our troops, there wouldn’t have been any community to organize. We would have all been speaking Grenedan or whatever crap language they tried to shove down our throats.

    Since Obama is a yellow-bellied liberal with no morals, he has no qualms playing around while the army he supposedly leads is getting they heads blown off by the Taliban.

    Just like Hitler and Karl Marx, Obama is not losing any sleep while the carnage goes on around him.

  7. john personna says:

    He should have driven a fast attack sub to Poland, or a space shuttle, that would be cool.

  8. anjin-san says:

    I think it is more important to be reminded of the rank hypocrisy of the MSM and others on the left who howled with derision when Bush did play golf.

    Perhaps it is a bit different because Mr. Bush, when he was President, allowed himself to be led by the nose into starting a wholly unnecessary was against a country that did not attack or threaten us. IE, people were dying because he was a weak fool.

  9. Herb says:

    I know Bush said he gave up golf for the troops, but I always thought he gave it up to avoid moments like this.

  10. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Considering the range of Air Force One, I am somewhat surprised they did not fly from the west coast, across the pacific to reach Poland. It is the long way around yet it was achievable. Guess it was not worth the gas. If Obama golfs like he throws baseballs, I would like to play him for paychecks.

  11. Rick Almeida says:

    He should have driven a fast attack sub to Poland, or a space shuttle, that would be cool.

    Thread winner.

  12. pylon says:

    No one commented on Bush playeing golf during wartime. They laughed when he said he was giving it up like it was some big sacrifice.

  13. John425 says:

    Joyner doesn’t understand the “appearance of” and “frequency” issues along with “poor timing” issues”. Wonder if he’d defend “Nero fiddling while Rome burns”?

  14. george says:

    Joyner doesn’t understand the “appearance of” and “frequency” issues along with “poor timing” issues”. Wonder if he’d defend “Nero fiddling while Rome burns”?

    In the wikipedia it says “According to Tacitus, upon hearing news of the fire, Nero returned to Rome to organize a relief effort, which he paid for from his own funds.” That is, Nero wasn’t in Rome playing fiddle while it burned. And they further mention that there were no fiddles in Rome at that time anyway …

    So yes, it might not be as hard as you think to defend Nero’s behavior with regard to the burning of Rome.

  15. James Young says:

    Quick question: Just who is it who’s “argu[ing] that the Commander-in-Chief shouldn’t take some time for relaxation when there’s a war on”?

  16. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Anjin, your hate for all things Bush cause you to lie like a rug. The authority to use force past both houses of congress in a bipartisan manner, which is something the current President seems incapable of doing. Since you mentioned leading something around by the nose, how is your coke habit comming? You and Scott Ritter seem to express some undying affection for Saddam Hussein. I am really curious to know what it is about Saddam you admire so much. His treatment of the Marsh Arabs? How about how he dealt with the Kurds? That not it? Must be his fair treatment of the Kuwaiti civilians when he invaded their country. Since you are a Bush hater, maybe it was his plot on the life of George H. W. Bush. After 17 UN resolutions which failed to bring about changes in Iraq, why is it you question the action of the government of the United States to remove this man from power? Maybe it is just because he was a client state of your much loved and missed Soviet Union that you hold Saddam in such high regard and that the evil criminal Bush had the gall to remove him from a position he murdered to get.

  17. george says:

    After 17 UN resolutions which failed to bring about changes in Iraq, why is it you question the action of the government of the United States to remove this man from power?

    Totally independent of Saddam and the Iraq war, do you really trust the UN so much that you’re arguing that the US should be following the lead of UN resolutions in determining its policies?

  18. pete says:

    Ragshaft, please be more civil with Anjin-san. He is ill with BDS and doesn’t deserve your wrath.

  19. An Interested Party says:

    Ragshaft, please be more civil with Anjin-san.

    Along those same lines, maybe Anjin should also go easy on Ragshaft, among many others around here, who all suffer from an acute case of ODS…

  20. agorabum says:

    I thought Bush had a knee injury that made golf more difficult (hence the biking instead of jogging as exercise). So the medical reasons were primary, the stated reasons secondary.
    Also, military men do enjoy golf; the army even has a golf course right next to the DMZ in Korea…the green is surrounded by a mine field though…

  21. anjin-san says:

    how is your coke habit comming?

    Clean & Sober 20 years. Thanks for asking 🙂