John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Golf and the President

Posted on October 27, 2009
Golf and the President

According to Politico, “CBS' Mark Knoller — an unofficial documentarian and statistician of all things White House-related — wrote on his Twitter feed that, "Today - Obama ties Pres. Bush in the number of rounds of golf played in office: 24.
Took Bush 2 yrs & 10 months." This news comes on the heels of today's news that Obama played golf with a woman — chief domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes — for the first time since taking office.”

For the record, I have played golf about ten times this year. I really like golf and used to play a lot.

Most Presidents play golf. Dwight Eisenhower was famous for playing a lot of golf. He seemed to play golf more than he worked as President. But Ike knew what he was doing, and when it came to make decisions about war and peace, he didn’t spend a lot of time dickering around.

President Ford was a famous hacker. When he played golf around a lot of people, it was the gallery that was in danger, not the President.

George Bush the First famously played golf very, very fast. As President, you can clear out all the foursomes in front of you, which is what Papa Bush did. And then he would get 18 holes in in about an hour and a half.

Bill Clinton famously cheated at golf. I played behind him once, and saw him throw three ball down in the fairway until he got the shot he wanted. His group was playing so slow, that a group playing behind us hit into our group, and hit one of our foursome in the head. Luckily, the President’s doctors were there, and they were able to bandage him up pretty quickly.

When Clinton once said he broke 80, Tom DeLay called him a liar, and challenged him to a match. I don’t think it ever happened though.

George Bush the Second seemed like a pretty good golfer. He had a good swing and looked like he could shoot in the high 70’s to low 80’s. Bush got a lot of grief for playing golf during the Iraq War, and he stopped playing for a while, out of deference for the troops (and for the bad press he was getting). That probably partially explains why Obama has played a lot more than Bush did thus far in his term.

Obama has played a lot of golf, though. He has played more rounds of golf than he had meetings with Congressional Republicans. He had played more golf than he has had meeting with Democrats working out the details of his health care strategy. He has played a lot more golf than had meetings with General McChrystal about our strategy in Afghanistan.

I would feel a lot better about the President’s golf game had he announced his decision on Afghanistan. The excuses coming from the White House about the indecision of the President are amazing. Rahm said that he doesn’t want to make an announcement until they get a legitimate, corrupt-free government in Afghanistan. I love hearing Chicago politicians complain about the corruption in another country. Hell, Chicago politicians invented political corruption!

The President yesterday said he didn’t want to make a quick decision to put our young folks in harm’s way, not seeming to realize that we already have young people in harm’s way in Afghanistan, and they need reinforcements, now.

I certainly hope the President is not delaying his announcement because of politics. Some have speculated that the White House didn’t want to announce a decision because of concerns over its impact on the New Jersey and Virginia races. Others have speculated that if they piss off the liberals on Afghanistan, it may hurt them with passage of health care.

None of those reasons are sufficient. The former Vice President may not have been the best messenger, but his message was right. Mr. Obama needs to stop dithering.

There is nothing worse than playing golf behind a slow golfer. You know, the kind that takes eight practice swings and then hits a worm-burner, the kind that gets to the green in three over par, and then lines up the putt from every angle, the kind that spends 25 minutes looking for a golf ball in the woods, only to throw a ball down, and hit another one in the woods, and start the process all over again.

There are reports that the President is a slow golfer. Not good.

He also is a slow decision-maker.

Slow play in golf is annoying. Slow play in war is deadly.

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