Amusing, but curious as well. On Sunday, Barack Obama admitted that he should have considered the optics of hitting the golf course just minutes after his statement on the beheading of James Foley during his vacation. That took place on August 20th, and the media blowback was both immediate and brutal — but it apparently took a couple of weeks for the lessons of “optics” to take hold:
President Obama was turned down at several top golf courses in Westchester while he was visiting the area over Labor Day weekend, sources tell NBC 4 New York.
The Trump National Golf Club, the Winged Foot and Willow Ridge were among some of the elite courses that rebuffed the president’s request to tee off there, according to several sources who were told about the president’s advance team’s calls to the club managers.
Club managers apparently did not want to inconvenience their high-powered and high-paying members over Labor Day weekend by shutting down their courses to accommodate the president.
The president was in town Aug. 29, a Friday, for fundraising events in New York and Rhode Island. He had been scheduled to stay overnight in Westchester County in order to attend the Saturday evening wedding of MSNBC host Alex Wagner and White House chef Sam Kass at Blue Hill Farm.
This wasn’t just a request to squeeze in a tee time. When the President plays golf, the course has to clear out for security reasons, which would have cost these clubs plenty in both customer satisfaction and actual dollars. A last-minute request for a golf club to boot its regulars for an unplanned presidential round is both clueless and arrogant.
One analyst says there was a time when these same clubs would have jumped at the chance, though:
Political analyst Dan Gerstein said there was a time Obama would never have been turned down.
“I think he has lost that star quality he had in his first two years in office and in that 2008 campaign,” he said.
That’s certainly been true this summer, and this explains why. After botching the “optics” with the Foley statement, Obama then admitted the next week that he had “no strategy” to deal with ISIS. That created a firestorm among Republicans, Democrats, and the media, all of whom wondered when the President might get around to crafting one, since ISIS had been on the march all summer long by that point. Who, exactly, thought it would be a good idea to have the President squeeze in another round of golf while disrupting a high-profile country club to extend the narrative of a never-ending vacation?
Looks like the need for lessons on optics continues. By the way, did anyone really take Obama seriously when he claimed not be naturally inclined to political theater? Andrew Malcolm recalled this from 2008 during my show yesterday:
And this as well, when Obama campaigned in Germany in the same year:
Yes, Obama sure is the shy and retiring type, isn’t he?