Par for the Course
I am amazed at how much I have heard about President Obama’s golf game in recent weeks. That’s because I probably spend too much time listening to talk radio and watching cable news, where this kind of stuff has become additional fodder for ongoing partisan warfare. Now we learn that Obama has already played more rounds of golf during his presidency than President George W. Bush did during two full terms in office.
Unfortunately for the recreation industry, golf has become synonymous with shirking presidential duty. Liberals chastised Bush for golfing while American servicemen and women were dying overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the point where he stopped playing completely. Not to mention those who rode him relentlessly for mountain biking and clearing brush on his ranch. Now I hear conservatives delivering payback to Obama over his own love of golf.
Given the constant pressure that presidents are under, the idea that they shouldn’t engage in any outdoor stress-relieving recreational activity is just ridiculous. I felt that way when the criticism was directed at Bush, and the same is now true for Obama. If anything, some kind of break is likely to make them more efficient in their day-to-day professional responsibilities.
In my classes on presidential power and foreign policy, I often use the example of President Reagan and the invasion of Grenada. The White House very effectively used pictures of Reagan conferring by phone with key advisors while on the golf course, in order to show that the president had everything under control. Granted, Grenada is not Iraq or Afghanistan. But the idea that a president can’t golf and manage the affairs of state at the same time is silly.


Posted On: 04-20-2010 19:42:07 by Jim Splaine
To golf or not to golf. That is the question. Actually, I think it's better than the "power-walking" of Mike Dukakis or the windsailing of John Kerry, or even the killer rabbit hunting of Jimmy Carter! I think you've got it said well: such sports and activities are stress-relieving, and thank goodness our Chief Executives find those ways to vent. Maybe it will keep us out of another Iraq or Afghanistan.

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