By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
I love to play golf, and so far I’ve been too busy to play this spring. (Hopefully, that will change soon.) In the meantime, I’ve had to be content with watching the sport on TV. I was glad Phil Mickelson’s wife was able to make it to the Masters for his win. The next weekend, I watched Brian Davis call a two-stroke penalty on himself on the eighteenth in the final round at the Verizon Heritage tournament, which gave the victory to Jim Furyk. Davis was a total class act about it, and for that matter, so was Furyk. Moments like that are why golf is such a great game for teaching character and sportsmanship to kids, and why an organization like First Tee can make such a difference.
I also noticed lately how much golf the President is playing. I think that’s great--the more he can get out and play, the better. Maybe more kids will take up the sport as a result, and maybe it’ll help get him get some relief from all the stress. I wish Mrs. Obama would play with him and encourage more women to play.
But I’m working on a column right now on how few press conferences the President has held--his last one was in July of 2009--and yet he’s played golf 32 times since being elected, which is more than George W. Bush played during two entire terms in office. In today’s Daily Beast, Mark McKinnon agrees that Obama should play as much golf as he wants. The problem is the media’s double standard when it comes to the coverage of the President’s golf outings:
On Memorial Day last year, the press reverently reported that Obama placed a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns in the morning, and then observed a moment of silence that afternoon—on the golf course before teeing off. (I can only imagine how this would have been reported if Bush’s moment of “silent remembrance and solemn prayer” was on the green.)
... And how about this headline from the Washington Post: "Just the Sport for a Leader Most Driven.” Richard Leiby reports, “To some, Obama’s frequent outings reflect a cool self-confidence.” The article then quotes a sports psychologist who said Obama seemed able to play golf despite the grim reports by the media about the wars and the economy.
That bears repeating. Here is a journalist remarking about Obama that he is “able” to play golf despite war casualties and economic disaster. For Bush, the press couldn’t believe that he would dare golf at such a time, but for Obama they marvel that he can.
It’s a shame that Bush felt he had to give up golf because of the message he thought it sent to soldiers and veterans. I don’t think it sent a bad message at all, because golf builds character, requires mental toughness and demands honesty. Our golf club hosts a huge fundraiser for vets every year, and tons of them come to play. It’s great.
Not only in golf but on a variety of subjects, there’s a real double standard when it comes to press coverage of Obama and Bush. And McKinnon makes a great point.