Earlier this week, Matt Lewis reported that a group calling itself the “We Are Golf” coalition had started peppering Republican lawmakers with pleas to stop criticizing Barack Obama for his hundred-plus rounds of golf while unemployment soared. The letters urged these critics to consider the 2 million people employed by the golf industry and fretted about the kind of “unfair legislation and regulation” that might result if golf continued to be denigrated. Today, Alex Pappas at The Daily Caller reports that the brains behind this effort to squelch criticism of Obama isn’t Jack Nicklaus or Phil Mickelson — it’s a well-known Democratic lobbyist with ties to the White House:
The Daily Caller has learned that Tony Podesta, a well-known Democratic lobbyist with strong ties to the Obama White House, is behind the We Are Golf coalition of golfing organizations that has sent letters to Republicans such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio asking them to cut out the criticism of Obama’s golfing habits.
Melissa Low, a spokeswoman for the Club Managers Association of America, confirmed to TheDC on Thursday that Podesta was hired to help with the coalition. Other groups supporting the coalition include the PGA of America, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and the National Golf Course Association of America.
“The Podesta Group was retained to assist with advocacy and public relations for the coalition in early 2010,” Low said in response to an email from TheDC.
Tony Podesta formed the Podesta Group in 1988 with his brother, John Podesta, who led Obama’s transition effort.
The spokesman for the group insisted that they’re concerned about criticism of golf, but the comments from Republicans about Obama’s obsession with the links while job creation stagnates has nothing to do with the game itself. It’s a criticism of Obama, who once claimed to CNN that he was too busy with his family to work on changing Washington, but who has spent more than 100 days of his presidency on the links. As for “unfair legislation and regulation,” what kind of regulation would Congress pass about golf courses? Golf courses have to deal with local zoning ordinances and state environmental regulations, but otherwise have as much to do with federal regulation as any other business — taxes and ObamaCare. Maybe they should focus on the unfairness of paying for that monstrosity.
This is nothing more than a White House attempt to use a big-time lobbyist in an effort to get people to shut up about Obama’s golf game. Apparently, the West Wing thinks that the golf digs at Obama might have some effect. Maybe we should test that hypothesis further in the next few weeks.