Why Obama Golfs

President Obama sees the golf course as the only place to escape the pressures of the job.

President Obama says that he plays a lot of golf because it’s the only way he can have something like a normal life:

“I just miss – I miss being anonymous,” he said at the meeting in the White House. “I miss Saturday morning, rolling out of bed, not shaving, getting into my car with my girls, driving to the supermarket, squeezing the fruit, getting my car washed, taking walks. I can’t take a walk.”

He says he enjoys golf but is not the fanatic that some have portrayed.

“It’s the only excuse I have to get outside for four hours at a stretch,” he said.

Jim Geraghty isn’t too sympathetic:

Well, Mr. President, I tried to prevent you from having to deal with this. And I’ll do my part to give you less prominence and more free time starting in January 2013.

The experience of the modern presidency is one unlike almost any other life on earth. Think about it – while he’s sleeping, I presume some Secret Service agent is just outside his room, listening; presumably the Obamas are monitored in some form, in case, heaven forbid, Obama has some health issue while he’s sleeping. He awakens, and there are people around him – staffers – every single minute. Even when he’s alone in the Oval Office, which is probably rare, there’s someone just outside. There is no “ordinary” interaction with anyone. Going out for a meal requires meticulous planning and massive security preparations. Going to visit his daughters’ school requires a motorcade.

On the other hand, he spent two years and spent half a billion dollars asking for this job. He is free from financial worries. He never has to worry about traffic. His travel budget is almost unlimited, and he never has his junk touched by the TSA. He never waits on line. He rarely if ever is on hold, and he rarely if ever fills out forms. While he lives with a greater threat to his safety and security that almost all of us, he is, probably, the most secure human being on earth. Probably ninety percent of his interactions with people end with, “Yes, sir, Mr. President.”

There’s no doubt that there are some great perks to being president and that Obama not only asked for the job but is campaigning for another four years. So, clearly, he thinks the trade-offs are well worth it.

Still, I don’t for a minute begrudge him a few rounds of golf a month. That he wanted the job and wants to keep doing it another six years doesn’t negate the fact that it’s incredibly stressful. And leaders need down time even more than those who do physical labor; a tired decision-maker is a poor decision-maker.

That said, a large part of the problem is the ridiculous security bubble with which we surround presidents. Yes, John Kennedy was murdered within living memory and serious attempts were made on Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. But the notion that a president can’t make an unscheduled trip to the park without days of advance planning is nonsense.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, Sports, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies 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. reid says:

    Geraghty sounds like a partisan twit. I was going to write more, but that really sums it up.

  2. Southern Hoosier says:

    Comrade Obama, the Great One, wants the perks that comes with his office, but little of the responsibilities. Jim Geraghty is a partisan twit for daring to criticize him for it.

  3. Tano says:

    SH,

    Why do you waste your precious life writing such inane drivel, and waste our time putting it in front of us? Do you really have nothing better to do?

  4. Southern Hoosier says:

    Tano says: Monday, April 11, 2011 at 16:05
    Why do you waste your precious life writing such inane drivel, and waste our time putting it in front of us? Do you really have nothing better to do?

    You could probably ask that question of most of the people that post on here, including yourself

  5. reid says:

    Whatever, Hoosier. Sad that he wastes so much time on a dumb non-issue. I’m sure it’s serving some partisan purpose.

  6. Southern Hoosier says:

    reid says: Monday, April 11, 2011 at 16:31

    Whatever, Hoosier. Sad that he wastes so much time on a dumb non-issue. I’m sure it’s serving some partisan purpose.

    Why did you call Geraghty “a partisan twit? Because he criticized Pres Obama’s golf playing, right? I’ve said it on here before, Pres Obama is one of the great scared cows of America. Any criticism of him, no matter how slight, will bring on an attack. I could really care less if he spent the next 2 years playing golf. What I find amusing is the way his lackeys rush to his defense at the slightest provocation.

  7. reid says:

    I called Geraghty a partisan twit because he wasted so much time on a dumb non-issue. (See James’s explanation.) Feel free to bring up valid criticism of Obama, but this ain’t it, and it has nothing to do with any imaginary cows.

  8. Southern Hoosier says:

    As of January 2, Obama has been president for 712 days. According to figures compiled by CBS News reporter Mark Knoller, who serves as a sort of unofficial White House record-keeper, Obama has spent 339 of those days — nearly 48 percent — outside Washington.

    According to Knoller, Obama has spent 176 days on domestic trips, 70 days on foreign travel, 58 days on vacation, and 35 days at Camp David. (You can add a couple more vacation days to the total before the president returns from his break in Hawaii.)

    http://urbangrounds.com/2011/01/obama-away-dc/

  9. Neil Hudelson says:

    Hoosier,

    What’s your point?

  10. Southern Hoosier says:

    Neil Hudelson says: Monday, April 11, 2011 at 17:33

    Hoosier,

    What’s your point?

    I was just pointing out that Comrade Obama, the Great One, despite being out of the White House 48 percent of the time, has accomplished as much as a full time president.

  11. anjin-san says:

    Clearly, sh has no clue about how c level executives function. Why is that not a surprise?

  12. reid says:

    Sad case of Obama Derangement Syndrome… tsk tsk.

  13. Southern Hoosier says:

    ranjin-san says: Monday, April 11, 2011 at 17:57
    Clearly, sh has no clue about how c level executives function. Why is that not a surprise?
    .

    reid says: Monday, April 11, 2011 at 18:27
    Sad case of Obama Derangement Syndrome… tsk tsk.

    I know attack the messenger when you can’t refute the message. I was just praising Comrade Obama, the Great One for being such an efficient worker.

  14. sam says:

    @Southern Hoosier

    “I was just pointing out that Comrade Obama, the Great One, despite being out of the White House 48 percent of the time, has accomplished as much as a full time president.”

    And that point is? Is that supposed to be a criticism or what? You’re saying he’s part-time president who accomplishes as much as a full-time president. Either the full-time presidents were dogging it, or he is just much, much more efficient than they were. Or, more probably, you’re full of shit.

  15. sam says:

    Ah, I see, you were praising him. Sorry, that took me by surprise.

  16. Scott says:

    Yes, Patriot Southern Hoosier, the One Mighty and Strong, may be seeing the light.

  17. Southern Hoosier says:

    sam says:Monday, April 11, 2011 at 19:15
    Or, more probably, you’re full of shit.

    LOL

  18. anjin-san says:

    I know attack the messenger when you can’t refute the message.

    Well, your message seems to be “I am an idiot, and proud of it”. So no, I can’t refute the message.

  19. Jay Tea says:

    Here’s a deal: if Obama will stop using his little “I will not rest until” verbal tic, I personally will stop mocking him for his incessant resting.

    Fair enough?

    J.

  20. anjin-san says:

    Jay Tea, on the other hand, has embraced your message and made it his own.

  21. Jay Tea says:

    anjin, no one put that phrase into high rotation on the Teleprompter on Obama, he chooses to use it himself.

    For someone who’s supposedly a great speaker, he relies way too much on the same stock phrases and rhetorical tics. “I will not rest,” saying “there are those who say” when setting up a false choice, “as I have said before” or “as I have always believed” when reversing himself… it’s just plain laziness.

    And if some of us decide to actually take Obama at his word, I guess that shows what fools we are.

    J.