A top pundit skewers Obama's links fetish....
As the summer vacation season draws to a close, NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd's tart tongue is in epic form in her "The Golf Address" Sunday piece. Here are the first three paragraphs:
"FORE! Score? And seven trillion rounds ago, our forecaddies brought forth on this continent a new playground, conceived by Robert Trent Jones, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal when it comes to spending as much time on the links as possible — even when it seems totally inappropriate, like moments after making a solemn statement condemning the grisly murder of a 40-year-old American journalist beheaded by ISIL.
"I know reporters didn’t get a chance to ask questions, but I had to bounce. I had a 1 p.m. tee time at Vineyard Golf Club with Alonzo Mourning and a part-owner of the Boston Celtics. Hillary and I agreed when we partied with Vernon Jordan up here, hanging out with celebrities and rich folks is fun.
"Now we are engaged in a great civil divide in Ferguson, which does not even have a golf course, and that’s why I had a “logistical” issue with going there. We are testing whether that community, or any community so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure when the nation’s leader wants nothing more than to sink a birdie putt."
Her full rendition is terrific, and bears a complete read.
Especially galling to many was a juxtaposition of Obama's expression of heartbreak with his moments-later, jocular golf-course fist-bump with a an ex-pro basketballer. OK, other presidents have foolishly ignored bad optics. Here is what I wrote in LFTC re George W. Bush's frolic with US Olympians in Beijing while Vladimir Putin invaded US ally Georgia in August 2008:
"Thus are the wages of the administration's feeble non-response...and [of] a president whose infatuation with sports caused him to party on while tanks rolled into the countryside of a faithful, ardent ally. Today's question: Does anyone thing that Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher would have hung around for several days at any sports event while doing nothing but jawboning, as armor crossed an ally's border?"
In that vein, British PM David Cameron cut his vacation short and came home upon Foley's beheading, which gave force to his condemnation of the brutal murder as "depraved." Ironically, Bush himself deferred to the optics problem when in August 2003, during the Iraq War, he suspended playing golf for the remainder of this presidency. He thought times were too serious for him to be on the links. Bush did so after a jihadist bomb destroyed the UN HQ in Baghdad and killed its highly-regarded special envoy to postwar Iraq, saying:
“I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander-in-chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them.”
Bottom Line. Normally, no one objects to presidents playing golf or enjoying other leisure pursuits. Indeed, had the president ordered a massive surprise strike to coincide with a publicized golf game his recreation could have served as a form of strategic deception--what the Russians call maskirovka, "masking." (This is not to be confused with another Russian ploy, dezinformatsia--"disinformation"--the intentional release of false information. In my example, the latter would apply if the president were in fact not playing golf, but in the White House Situation Room, with fake golf-course video released to the public.)
But at other times presidents must not only be on the job; they must be seen as being on the job. The day James Foley was beheaded by a jihadist was one of those days.
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