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.