“Let me play!,” he demands (because he can). So here’s how President Obama really spent Father’s Day in 2012, the year that he must campaign to be re-elected president (but that is David Axelrod’s problem, isn’t it):
Early on Sunday, June 17th, Obama put Michelle and the girls on a plane to Oregon. He now had “alone time” — not for the duties of the presidency or his campaign — but to play golf with his favorite buddies on the fairways of an exclusive Chicago private club. The president’s White House staff, as usual, carried his golf bag and clubs.
From “Obama Plays Golf for the 100th Time of his Presidency,” White House Dossier blog, June 17, 2012:
President Obama rolled out of his Kenwood, Chicago home Sunday morning. … [playing] at the Beverly Country Club with two old pals, Eric Whitaker and Marty Nesbitt, as well as regular golf companion Marvin Nicholson, the White House trip director. …
The president golfed 28 times in 2009, 30 times in 2010, and an incredible 34 times in 2011.
Obama’s golfing takes about five hours, including the motorcades back and forth from the fairways.
If one thinks [this takes up] much of the day – including getting ready to go and cooling off afterward … Obama has spent more than three months of his presidency golfing.
[Golfing] is perceived as a game of the idle rich and is generally unavailable to the poor, putting Obama’s frequent outings at odds with his image as a man of “hope” for the dispossessed.
The White House carefully downplays Obama’s golfing, rarely talking about it and releasing few pictures of the president swinging away. A search of the White House uploads on the Flickr photo-sharing website finds only a handful of shots of the president playing golf, compared to nearly two dozen of him playing basketball, which he spends far less time at. … (Read all.)
ABC News’s title, however, carries a punch: “Golfer in Chief? Obama Hits 100th Time on the Links.”
The ABC News reporter provides additional background, some of it interesting albeit not challenging:
Like 15 of the 18 presidents since Theodore Roosevelt, Obama has used golf as a way to unwind outdoors, but away from the prying eyes of press and onlookers. And despite the fact that he had never golfed before taking office, his love of the game is well known.
On warm-weather weekends he frequently visits two courses in the Washington area, Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland and Fort Belvoir in Virginia. Typically close friends or junior aides join him as partners, as was the case today when he brought Marty Nesbitt, a chum and neighbor from this city.
Matching predecessors, he is also known to bring business to the green on occasion. Among others, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former President Bill Clinton, and House Speaker John Boehner have all teed off with Obama at some point. …
The ABC News report also adds the viewpoints of Republicans, including Mitt Romney:
Republicans have attempted to target the president’s hobby as a sign of taking too much time off in an era of economic trouble for the country. In April, Mitt Romney, who does not play the game, told a conservative radio host it displayed a poor work ethic.
“I scratch my head at the capacity of the president to take four hours off on such a regular basis to go golfing,” he said. “I would think you could kind of suck it up for four years, particularly when the American people are out of work.”
Amen to that, Mitt. In fact, I cannot fathom Mitt Romney, should he defeat Obama in November, ever taking so much time off from what is arguably the most critically important job in the world, with so many domestic and internationally issues that constantly require non-stop concentration, consultations and commitment. (That is, if one takes the job of the presidency with any seriousness.)
Koffler’s excellent post at White House Dossier puts the right finish on diagnosing what is so wrong with Obama’s self-centered priorities — e.g., how Obama chooses golf over presidential duty, even his campaign:
But others say the president could find another way to relax, and that golfing sends the wrong message to the poor and to the troops during a time of economic struggle and war.
George W. Bush gave up golfing in 2003, explaining his rationale five years later in an interview with POLITICO, saying it was wrong to play during wartime:
I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.
Obama clearly disagrees and has been unperturbed by criticism of his golf, maintaining a steady pace even during an election year.