President Barack Obama teed off again on Thursday, just 24 hours after pictures of his wide grin on the golf course drew condemnation in the wake of the beheading of American photojournalist James Foley.
‘Admit it,’ a White House pool reporter emailed the press corps. ‘You all made small-dollar bets that POTUS would be playing golf today. And … you would be right!’
‘We are at the Farm Neck Golf Club at 1:13 pm. and POTUS is hitting the links again.’…
The New York Times had digital egg on its face for hours while Obama golfed, publishing a story about his early afternoon speech headlined: ‘Obama Outraged Over Beheading, Vows to Stay on Course.’
The grey lady eventually changed her headline.
Struggling to reconcile my belief that critiques of presidential hobbies/vacations are stupid with my annoyance at Obama's golfing today.
— Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) August 20, 2014
Agreed. Critiques of presidential vacations are dumb. But golfing today is in bad taste. Not sure how to reconcile: http://t.co/4Mlq5dL2c7
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) August 20, 2014
David Axelrod, an architect of Obama’s two presidential campaigns, told The News that Presidents are “never off-duty.”
“We used to pillory George Bush for going to his ranch and we were wrong,” he said, referring to President George W. Bush.
“The demands and pressures of the presidency are relentless, and we ought to want our presidents to get small breaks to relax, even in-and maybe especially in — the midst of crisis,” said Axelrod, who now runs a politics institute at the University of Chicago.
“I guarantee you, that wherever he goes, the President is accompanied by the memory of Jim Foley and every American who has died on his watch. You can’t escape it.”
President Obama doesn’t care if the optics are bad. He doesn’t care if there’s an awful contrast because UK Prime Minister David Cameron canceled his vacation plans. He doesn’t care if he’s getting grief from once-stalwart fans like Chris Matthews and Maureen Dowd. He doesn’t care if Congressional Democrats are openly griping about his disinterest and disconnect in the New York Times, and he doesn’t care if senior Democrats are declaring that he’s completely checked out of his presidency other than attending fundraisers.
You recall Obama’s exhausted, “we will not rest” pledge, deployed after every crisis. Even when he gives a decent delivery of his remarks, like he did Wednesday, talking about how relentless and determined the U.S. government is… then it’s back to the links. There’s no action that follows; No emergency meetings or summits, no new deployment of military resources to the region. Business as usual. Does anyone really believe his pledges of relentlessness anymore? Does ISIS?
I suppose someone will say, “the president golfing shows the terrorists can’t shake him out of his routine.” What’s so vital about that routine that an interruption of it constitutes a terrorist victory?
Obama has his plans. His plans include pushing his various fake campaign positionings to gin up the left-wing base, and playing golf and attending jazz festivals…
Sheldon Cooper does this on Big Bang Theory. In that show, Sheldon has some sort of crazy single-mindedness manifesting an absolute insistence on sticking to his Routine.
Sheldon Cooper doesn’t care if someone’s loved one has died. This is Thursday. We have pizza on Thursday. That’s what we do on Thursday. Because it’s Thursday.
No matter what happens in the world, Obama is sticking to Pizza On Thursdays.
Because that’s what we do on Thursdays. Thursdays are for Pizza.
They’re slaughtering Christians in Iraq? Thursdays are for Pizza.
They’re slaughtering Yazidis in Iraq? Pizza is what we have on Thursdays.
Ferguson is burning? It’s Thursday. Thursday night is pizza night.
James Foley was beheaded by the New Caliphate in Iraq? Well, unless James Foley is our Pizza delivery guy, I don’t really see how this alters our Thursday plans…
I really do not know what it could possibly take to get Obama to acknowledge that while Thursdays are often for Pizza, sometimes momentous events occur which require delaying Pizza until later.
Once again, in a moment of horror for this country he seems almost weirdly detached. It was no different when radicals in Ukraine shot a passenger jet out of the sky and killed hundreds of innocent people, and Obama originally spent less than a minute on that in a speech in Delaware before returning to his prepared text, and then more fund-raising after that.
The country believes less and less in his ability to do what he was hired to do — actually lead — and to connect with both the fear and the anger about an event like this. Once more he seems to be counting the days until he is an ex-President, when his whole life becomes rhetoric and speeches instead of actual leadership…
[T]he rise of ISIS has absolutely happened on this President’s watch. He absolutely does not get to put this on Bush, as much of a failure as he was, or anybody else. The cycle continues. One terrorist organization breeds another. We go into Iraq more than a decade ago and we are going to clean up everything over there, and what happens instead is that the country eventually becomes a Parris Island for ISIS.
I disagree. Not with the judgment that Obama is detached, dialing it in, contemptuous of events that interfere with his plans. I disagree with the idea that this August has been different, in any meaningful way, from the rest of Obama’s second term. For this president, the distinction between “time off” and “time on” is meaningless. For this president, every day is a vacation. And has been for some time. He is like Cosmo Kramer of Seinfeld. “His whole life is a fantasy camp,” George Costanza says of his friend. “People should plunk down $2,000 to live like him for a week.” Imagine what they would pay to live like Obama…
Criticizing the president the other day, Joe Scarborough nonetheless conceded, “Presidents are always working, whether on a golf course or behind a desk.” But is that actually so? What, exactly, does President Obama do? He seems to learn everything from the papers—from the IRS scandal to the VA scandal to the mobilization of the Missouri National Guard. International events routinely take him by surprise. His professional activities include fundraising—40 events this year so far—and perfunctory addresses to the public. He goes through the presidential motions: meeting with officials and foreign dignitaries, holding press conferences, sitting for interviews, shipping MREs to endangered populations, ordering air strikes. But there is no passion behind these activities, no restless energy, no managerial competence, no sense of purpose or mission or strategy, none of the qualities associated with leadership in business, politics, and culture…
This is the life: international travel, motorcades, sycophants and courtiers, tables at the best restaurants, round after round of golf, parties in a cool house, watching the best television shows, meeting all these renowned figures—and having them kiss up to you—ruminating over your legacy, over the causes of polarization, over the geopolitical situation, understanding other peoples’ motivations better than they do. Kramer has nothing on Obama. Politics, terrorists, Iran, Putin, Congress are all distractions. Best to enjoy the experience to the utmost. You are only president once.
In the 1990s, America had a holiday from history. Today, it has a president on holiday. The boundary separating vacation from vocation has disappeared. The party won’t end for years. And the hangover will be severe.