An Unfair Criticism of President Obama

President Obama, golfing, Martha's Vineyard, 2009


I realize that it looks bad for the President to be playing golf. From a public relations point of view, yes, it is a losing proposition for the President to play golf in a time of war or to look as if he's more interested in his golf game than national security. I've had to consider my own opinions on this to be formed out of passion rather than careful consideration. Maybe, just maybe, I will actually see a man or a woman in the White House of whom I approve, and, maybe, just maybe, they will like to play golf. It's not outside of the realm of possibility. What will I do then? Will I put on the mask of the hypocrite and walk around carrying water for that person?


It looks bad for President Obama to be playing golf while underwear bombers and evangelical jihadists and bankers and used car salesmen are running around, trying to ruin this country. In a more settled time, perhaps it wouldn't look as bad. If we had peace and prosperity, fine by me. Given our current state of affairs, he is due for some, but not all of this criticism:



It's been a tough first year for President Obama, as critics throughout the body politic bemoan that Mr. Change-We-Can-Believe-In is looking more and more like Mr. Politics-As-Usual. With the coming new year, however, POTUS has a prime opportunity to regroup, reload, and revamp his image. He could start by ditching golf.

Seriously. Its venerable White House history notwithstanding, golf is a dubious pastime for any decent, sane person, much less for this particular president. Why would a leader vowing to shake up Washington--to alter the very nature of politics--sell his soul to a leisure activity that screams stodgy, hyperconventional Old Guard?

There are signs that Obama has been nursing a creeping golf addiction for some time now. He took up the game a little more than a decade ago as a newbie state senator hoping to bond with more rural, conservative colleagues. Next thing you know, he was hooked--playing for cash, fretting over his form, and goading staffers to cut out of work early for a quick round.

During the 2008 race, Obama's golf outings drew less notice than his battles on the hard court. But, now that he's firmly ensconced in the Oval Office, the sticks have come out of the closet as Obama constantly looks to squeeze in a few holes: on Father's Day, during the family's summer holiday on the Vineyard, immediately upon touching down from his June trip to Europe. It is often noted that this president hit the links more frequently in his first nine months than the reared-on-golf George W. did in his first two years (after which W. conspicuously swore off the game out of respect for the troops). Currently ranked eighth on Golf Digest's list of presidential golfers (sandwiched between Clinton and Reagan), Obama seems intent on moving up the ladder--despite reports that he's something of a duffer.



In point of fact, it was a bad knee that put George W. Bush off the links, and a bad knee is what will do that every time. You cannot play golf with a knee or a back problem. All Presidents deserve their right to recreation. It would be unfair to say that the President has to be in Washington D.C. all of the time, padding around in rolled-up shirtsleeves with a frown worn down and a stack of papers nearby.

It is especially unfair to the First Family to expect them to be denied their right to recreation as well. Whether this criticism comes from the left or right is a bit unfair, and I have to say that I have engaged in it. I have criticized the social calendar, but I don't deny that they have a right to their affairs. I don't deny that they should have their chance to shine. I don't think you can be a good American and sneer at what perks come with that office. My bullshit is refuted in this case. There's probably evidence of it laying around here on the blog.

Who wouldn't want to play golf in Hawaii on a day like today? Who would deny him the right to have some down time? It does set a great example for Fatass Nation to get out and do something. There's an example of fitness here that should be followed. I guess I should be more conciliatory to this aspect of the President's daily routine and right to recreation. I do note that it's a losing proposition in the public mind. Is that fair? Perhaps not.