President Obama is taking undeserved heat from the right for playing golf during a time of national crisis. So much so that the White House felt compelled to actually address the issue. If you’re feeling a bit struck by deja-vu on this matter, it’s because we’ve seen this divisive and silly meme before.
During the presidency of George W. Bush, there was a lot of melodramatic consternation on the left about Bush’s playing golf during a time of war and / or national criss. A lot of it was no doubt due to this unfortunate moment. There were even unfounded rumors of his playing golf during the Katrina disaster, as if taking personal time to golf during crisis were proof of incompetence. It was all rather silly for a number of reasons, the foremost being that living a life of constant crisis management like the presidency requires does not also require that life simply stop. Life goes on, even during wartime. Down time is important.
During World War II, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower was a well known golf enthusiast, and took as much time as he could during the war to indulge his passion for the game.
From the section “Ike and Golf” at the Eisenhower Commission website:
His problem was, of course, how to fit golf into a very busy schedule. When he went to London in May of 1942 he picked living quarters some distance from the city so he could find some peace and quiet. The house he rented near Kingston was named Telegraph Cottage and the backyard fence luckily opened on the 13th hole at Coombe Hill Golf Club. During his stay in England Ike never played a full round at Coombe Hill, but he often played three or four holes before going to work in the morning. After the Allied invasion of Normandy, Ike placed his offices in a school house at Reims in the Champagne region of France – but he chose the Guex Golf Course clubhouse as his living quarters. Once again he had little time for golf, but he practiced through a few holes when he could.
Thus, it stands to reason that if it was okay for the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force – the man who planned D-Day – to golf during arguably the greatest crisis in modern history, then it’s probably okay for a president to golf during the “War on Terror” or to golf during the Gulf Spill Crisis and other presidential moments of crisis. Ike continued his love of playing golf during his presidency.