Posted on | May 31, 2011 | 1 Comment
Nile Gardiner is a Washington-based foreign affairs analyst and political commentator. He appears frequently on American and British television and radio, including Fox News Channel, CNN, BBC, Sky News, and NPR.
Barack Obama’s decision to play golf on Memorial Day was disrespectful and hardly presidential
Can you imagine David Cameron enjoying a round of golf on Remembrance Sunday? It would be inconceivable for the British Prime Minister to do so, and not just because of the usually dire weather at that time of the year. Above all, it would be viewed as an act of extremely bad taste on a day when the nation remembers and mourns her war dead. I can’t imagine the PM even considering it, and I’m sure his advisers would be horrified at the idea. And if the prime minister ever did play golf on such a sacrosanct day he would be given a massive drubbing by the British press, and it would never be repeated.
Contrast this with President Obama’s decision to play golf yesterday, Memorial Day, for the 70th time during his 28-month long presidency. For tens of millions of Americans, Memorial Day is a time for remembrance of the huge sacrifices made by servicemen and women on the battlefield. The president did pay his respects in the morning, laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, but later in the day traveled to Fort Belvoir to play golf. The story has not been reported so far in a single US newspaper, but was made public by veteran White House correspondent Keith Koffler on his blog. Here’s Koffler’s report:
The business of memorializing our war dead done, President Obama headed out to the Fort Belvoir golf course today, finding his way onto the links for the ninth weekend in a row.
Obama earlier today laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and met with families of those killed in battle. But he emerged from the day’s solemnity to go golfing for the 12th time this year and the 70th time of his presidency.
The decision to golf on Memorial Day invites comparison with President George W. Bush, who gave up the game early in his presidency and said he did it out of respect for the families of those killed in Iraq.
Does it matter if the president chooses to play golf on Memorial Day, and for the second time in his presidency (he did so as well in 2009)? I think it does, and it displays extraordinarily bad judgment, not only by Obama himself but also by his advisers. His chief of staff for example should have firmly cautioned against it. President Obama is not just any American but Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces. The United States is currently engaged in a major war in Afghanistan with over 100,000 troops on the ground, and more than 1,500 have already laid down their lives for their country.
The least the president can do on Memorial Day is spend the whole day with veterans and servicemen’s families while acknowledging their sacrifice. As Koffler points out above, President George W. Bush stopped playing golf out of respect for the families of Iraq War dead. This demonstrated not only good judgment but humility and respect for the men and women who keep America safe. It is little wonder that, as Gallup reveals in a new poll, US military personnel and veterans give Barack Obama lower marks for his job performance than members of the general public. The president’s actions smack of poor taste, as well a lack of empathy and support for the US military, hardly the kind of leadership the White House should be projecting at a time of war.