President Obama today played golf for the 200th time of his presidency, a milestone that for many is emblematic of a president who has frequently seemed detached from his job, his colleagues in Washington, and the American people.
The president’s 200th trip to an oasis of fairways comes at a particularly turbulent time. The usual problems – an uncertain economy that may or may not be gaining its footing, stagnant wages, low work force participation, Iran on the cusp of a nuclear weapon, and soaring U.S. debt – are all present.
But as he strolls about the course today, Obama now also finds himself waging war with merciless Islamists terrorists raging across Iraq and Syria like a wildfire, confronting the 21st century version of the Bubonic Plague, and facing the revived threat of a major terrorist attack.
Sympathizers with Obama’s golf obsession say he needs the time on the links to relax. If that were true, one would think that, as a newly elected president in 2009 and as a candidate in 2012 juggling the horrendous pressure of running the country and seeking reelection, his golf would have increased.
And yet he played 28 times in 2009 and on only 19 occasions in 2012. This year, as speculation grows he’s lost interest in the presidency, Obama has played 43 times, putting him on track to break his personal record of 46, which he set in 2013 after being safely reelected.
Perhaps realizing the incongruity of the president playing golf amid crises, the White House today initially loaded up the press pool to accompany Obama to his golf outing, and then had a better thought. The press was yanked out of the vans and dispatched to the windows of the Oval Office, where reporters instructed to witness the president speaking on the phone with HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell about the new Ebola case in Texas.
And then it was on to golf.
The president today is playing on his usual course at Fort Belvoir, Virginia with his usual group of junior White House aides.