Obamateurism of the Day

How does a wartime President observe Memorial Day? For the second time in three years, the current wartime President spent a respectful day somberly considering … the draw on the seventh hole:

The business of memorializing our war dead done, President Obama headed out to the Fort Belvoir golf course today, finding his way onto the links for the ninth weekend in a row.

Obama earlier today laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and met with families of those killed in battle. But he emerged from the day’s solemnity to go golfing for the 12th time this year and the 70th time of his presidency.

The decision to golf on Memorial Day invites comparison with President George W. Bush, who gave up the game early in his presidency and said he did it out of respect for the families of those killed in Iraq.

Most people in the US treat Memorial Day like another work holiday, but Barack Obama is not just any other American; he’s the Commander in Chief of the military.  The Telegraph’s Nile Gardiner noticed it (as well as the lack of mention in American media outlets) and marveled at the bad taste and judgment it displayed:

Can you imagine David Cameron enjoying a round of golf on Remembrance Sunday? It would be inconceivable for the British Prime Minister to do so, and not just because of the usually dire weather at that time of the year. Above all, it would be viewed as an act of extremely bad taste on a day when the nation remembers and mourns her war dead. I can’t imagine the PM even considering it, and I’m sure his advisers would be horrified at the idea. And if the prime minister ever did play golf on such a sacrosanct day he would be given a massive drubbing by the British press, and it would never be repeated. …

Does it matter if the president chooses to play golf on Memorial Day, and for the second time in his presidency (he did so as well in 2009)? I think it does, and it displays extraordinarily bad judgment, not only by Obama himself but also by his advisers. His chief of staff for example should have firmly cautioned against it. President Obama is not just any American but Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces. The United States is currently engaged in a major war in Afghanistan with over 100,000 troops on the ground, and more than 1,500 have already laid down their lives for their country.

Small wonder, Gardiner says, that active-duty military and veterans give Obama lower approval marks than the general public.  He gets the regard that he earns.

Instead of hitting the links next year, maybe Obama could pay respects to the families of those who sacrificed their all, or visit Walter Reed, or something a little more positive and a little less self-involved than hitting the links.  He can even bring gum if he likes.

Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at [email protected] with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.

Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!