Everyone expected conservatives to slam President Obama for playing golf after his impassioned denunciation of ISIS on Wednesday (or for playing golf ever), but even supposedly liberal media outlets like The New York Timesand Ezra Klein’s face-hole are getting in on the act. The lesson they learned from George W. Bush’s “Now watch this drive!” kerfuffle is now being visited on Obama, and so far, he’s not playing along.
Liberal wonksplainer Ezra Klein continued his campaign to concern-blast the President on Wednesday when he tweeted that “golfing today is in bad taste,” a useful sentiment if there ever was one, at least for Fox News:
Guy Benson: “I don’t think the White House cares at this point.”
But Klein wasn’t alone in his rebuke of President Obama’s chosen pastime. The New York Times‘ Chief White House Correspondent Peter Baker noted, yesterday, that Klein is joined by many Democrats who “privately…shook their heads at what they considered a judgment error.”
Baker doesn’t simply leave it at the observations of others that the golf outing looked bad, though. He also decides, as a reporter, not a commentator, that he can read Obama’s mind (emphasis mine):
But as soon as the cameras went off, Mr. Obama headed to his favorite golf course on Martha’s Vineyard, where he is on vacation, seemingly able to put the savagery out of his mind. He spent the rest of the afternoon on the links even as a firestorm of criticism erupted over what many saw as a callous indifference to the slaughter he had just condemned.
Then, he adds this bit of color from Democratic strategist Jim Manley:
The video, Mr. Manley added, “was just so shocking that the idea that he was going to immediately run to the golf course was just a little too much for folks; it was tone-deaf.”
Optics aside, there are a few problems with this. Most obvious is the fact that President Obama’s mind is what we White House reporters refer to as “closed press,” so Baker really has no business including it in his reporting. But the factual implication that Baker makes, that the President watched the video of James Foley’s beheading and then immediately skipped off to the golf course, is false. According to White House officials, the President was briefed on the video nearly 24 hours earlier, aboard Air Force One.
Now, about those optics. Baker also brings up George W. Bush’s infamous, “Now watch this drive” moment, and notes that “Mr. Bush later concluded that such scenes sent a bad message, and in the fall of 2003, with the Iraq war raging, he gave up golf for the remainder of his presidency.”
That’s the Iraq War, in case you’ve forgotten, that Baker’s paper gleefully abetted and cheerled us into, and which created the space that ISIS now occupies. The lesson that George W. Bush took from this was to continue the disastrous war, and quit the golf. Given the events that have transpired since then, and the momentous decisions this president no faces, it seems to me that it’s in pretty poor taste for anyone to give a rat’s ass about golf at a time like this.