Poor Barack Obama. Being president can take a lot out of him. That's why he needs to relax on the links, and relieve some stress into his golf game. No problem, says the Washington Post, the Gulf Spill can wait. This is the same Washington Post that berated President Bush for golfing while an armed conflict was taking place…in Israel.
Not that suicide bombings in Israel are an unserious matter, but doesn't the disaster in the Gulf require at least as much attention (far more, in my mind) from the President? The Post doesn't seem to think so.
So while the paper decried Bush's "golf cart diplomacy" and devoted over 600 words to suggesting that Bush's golf game was distracting from his work on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Post found no such grounds to criticize Obama. As a reporter for one of the paper's blogs put it, "who cares?" Obviously not the Post (h/t Jim Hoft).
Wrote Stephen Stromberg at the PostPartisan blog,
Surely even the president deserves — and probably needs — some downtime, even now. Weeks spent clearing brush back at the ranch in Hyde Park might be pushing it. But an afternoon on the back nine doesn’t bother me. And whenever Obama does take a few hours off, there will always be enough going on in the world against which to juxtapose his leisure to enable the Jim Hofts of the Internet to take their cheap shots. It was unfair when Michael Moore did this to George W. Bush. And it’s unfair for Hoft to do it to Barack Obama.
Was it unfair when the Post criticized Bush's balancing of work and leisure (on his vacation, by the way)? Stromberg doesn't say. As he notes, chief executives are always faced with a litany of difficult problems. So why are President Obama's golf habits off limit, while his predecessors' are fair game?
In fact, while Hoft simply posed the snark-laden word "leadership" at the bottom of his piece, the Post devoted a full-length article on page A2 to Bush's golf course distraction. The headline: "Before Golf, Bush Decries Latest Deaths In Mideast." Oh, snap.
The Post's Mike Allen wrote in 2002:
Bush, wearing khakis and a knit shirt, was holding a driver in his gloved left hand. The rest of his foursome, including his father, former president George H.W. Bush, was waiting. However incongruous the setting, the president plunged ahead. "There are a few killers who want to stop the peace process that we have started, and we must not let them," he said. "I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers."
His business out of the way, Bush barely paused for breath before saying, "Thank you. Now watch this drive."
The abrupt segue illustrates the dilemma Bush will face over the next month as he relaxes and works at his ranch in Crawford, Tex., at a time of global political volatility. On Tuesday, Bush will leave Washington behind until Labor Day. That is likely to mean a return to the golf-cart diplomacy of last summer, when Bush talked Middle East peace between playing holes, at one point dripping sweat as he said Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat "can do a lot more to be convincing the people on the street to stop these acts of terrorism."
Golf was apparently worthy of being the central theme of this story; the President was golfing while suicide bombers were blowing themselves up in Israel. But President Obama's attempt to get away from it all and enjoy 18 holes, on the other hand, is not worthy of any coverage. For those who suggest otherwise, the Post has two words: "Who cares?"