Obama golfs while the Middle East burns

Earnest’s report was the latest in a long tradition of presidents trying to assure the public they’re on top of things even as they hit the links for a leisurely round, sometimes in fabulously luxurious settings. Presidential golf can be a sensitive subject, especially if there is an international crisis at hand. Nevertheless, Obama continues to play, even as fears grow that events in Iraq, Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere have brought the world to a very dangerous point.

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Some critics believe Obama’s high-visibility leisure sends a negative signal to foreign leaders who already worry that the president is not fully engaged or simply not up to the job.

“He has got to know our allies are sitting there saying, ‘Has this guy got the chops? Is he strong?’ ” says former top George W. Bush aide Karl Rove, just returned from a trip to Europe. “And for him to hold a news conference saying he’s thinking about what to do in Iraq and then head off for a weekend of fundraisers and golf – does he think this escapes international view?”

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