The evolving acceptability of presidential golf

I know there are serious things that need to discussed right now, like Steve Bannon’s appearance at CPAC this afternoon, but, having hauled trash for the past two hours, I just can’t seem to muster the energy that would require. So, instead, here’s an interesting little timeline about the evolving acceptability of presidential golf that I just put together after having read about a dozen articles on the subject. I hope you enjoy reading it half as much as I enjoyed writing it.

From 2011 to 2014: Trump, according to the Washington Post, tweeted 38 times about Obama’s golfing and vacations between 2011 and 2014, saying things like “nice work ethic.” Here’s an example from October 2013.

December 2016: On the campaign trail in Michigan, Trump said of Obama, “He played more golf last year than Tiger Woods. We don’t have time for this. We don’t have time for this. We have to work.

February 2016: While complaining about Obama’s golfing, Trump tells a crowd in New Hampshire that, if he were in office, he wouldn’t waste time on the links. “I’d want to stay in the White House and work my ass off,” he told the cheering crowd.

August 2016: Speaking in front of a rally in Virginia, Trump, referencing Obama’s golfing, says, “I’m going to be working for you. I’m not going to have time to go play golf.

November 2016: Already starting to back off on the rhetoric, Trump conceded that it might be OK for a President to occasionally play golf, but only with foreign dignitaries. “But always play with leaders of countries and people that can help us,” he said.

February 11, 2017: White House reporter for The Associated Press Jill Colvin tweets an image from the room where the press has been sequestered at a Florida golf club. The photo shows that the windows facing the course have been covered in black plastic so that the reporters can’t see whether or not Trump is golfing outside.

March 19, 2017: When asked whether or not Trump had been golfing during the six visits he’d made to Florida golf courses since taking office four weeks ago, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said only that Trump had played “a couple of holes” that day and the day and the day before.

March 20, 2017: Professional golfer Rory McIlroy, in an interview with the golf blog No Laying Up, said that he’d shot 18 holes with Trump the day before, contradicting the story put out by the White House.

March 21, 2017: When asked about McIlroy’s comment, Sarah Huckabee Sanders amends her statement from the day before. “He intended to play a few holes,” the White House spokeswoman said, but “decided to play longer.”

It’s a minor thing. Personally, I don’t care at all Trump golfs. In fact, anything that keeps him out of the White House, and away from the desk where he keeps signing executive orders, is fine by me. With that said, though, I think this is the kind of thing that might actually resonate with some of those folks who voted for Trump. It’s not complex, like immigration policy. It’s very black and white. He promised that, as our President, he would work his “ass off” for us, and not golf, like Obama. Instead, he’s played golf six times in his very first month as President. And he did so behind blacked out windows. I’m sure a majority of his supporters won’t give a damn. They’ll justify it to themselves somehow. But I suspect that some, who are perhaps already beginning to realize that they’ve been lied to, might.

In contrast, Obama, who Trump constantly berated for golfing, didn’t play his first round of presidential golf until April 26, 2009, a full three months after taking office.

To put Trump’s golfing into perspective, here’s something that MSNBC producer Kyle Griffin shared earlier today from data aggregated by the Washington Post… During his first month in office, Trump spent 25 hours golfing, 21 hours on foreign relations, 13 hours tweeting, and 6 hours in intelligence briefings.

To use Trump’s own words, “Can you believe that, with all of the problems and difficulties facing the U.S., President (Trump) spent the day playing golf. Worse than Carter.”

And, for what it’s worth, to hear Trump tell it, the situation in America right now is worse than it was when Obama took over, so, it would stand to reason, it’s even worse to take time away from the White House to golf right now than it was eight years ago. I mean, wasn’t Trump just raving the other day about how he’d “inherited a mess“?

And it’s not just the fact that he’s spending his time golfing when he should be working his “ass off.” It’s that his repeated vacations to Florida are costing us, the American taxpayers, a fortune. The following is from the no-so-liberal Forbes.

Donald Trump’s regular jaunts to his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida appear to be costing taxpayers a small fortune. The president’s three trips have probably cost the federal Treasury about $10 million, the Washington Post estimates, based on an October 2016 Government Accountability Office analysis of White House travel.

By comparison, Barack Obama’s travel expenses averaged just $12.1 million during each year of his presidency. In total, Obama’s eight year travel bill came to $97 million and unbelievably, Donald Trump is on pace to outspend him in less than one year. The Washington Post says “the elaborate lifestyle of America’s first family is straining the Secret Service and security officials, stirring financial and logistical concerns in several local communities, and costing far beyond what has been typical for previous presidents.”

Before he became America’s commander in chief, Trump frequently criticized Obama’s travel expenses on Fox News and via his Twitter account…

I know we’ve entered the world of “alternative facts,” and that reality doesn’t hold as much weight as it once did, but it’s important to remember, I think, just how much the Republicans complained about all of this prior to Trump becoming our President… Here’s another tweet from the historical archives.

To Trump’s credit, he stayed on message right up until the inauguration. As you might recall, he told 60 Minutes, in his first interview after winning the presidency, “I don’t think we’ll be very big on vacations, no.” Of course all of that changed that first weekend in office, when he decided to take off for Florida.

In the whole scheme of things, like I said, it’s not that important. There are other lies… other manipulations… that are far worse. But I’d argue that this is still something that’s worth talking about. It’s tangible. It’s something that can’t be denied. Trump was elected in part because he cast our previous President as a man who would rather be out golfing than doing the work of the people, and wasting our hard-earned dollars in the process. And, now that he’s in office, he’s doing the same thing ten times over. Of course, he is a successful, white business man… And I guess it’s different when it’s a 70 year old white guy swinging the club.

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  1. Eel
    Posted February 24, 2017 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Trump is white, and 79 year old white men need to play golf. It makes them more productive. It’s cathartic. When Obama did it, though, he did so out of laziness.

  2. JT
    Posted February 24, 2017 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    You forget to include this.

    “Trump Makes Thirsty Business Asshole Tell Flattering Golf Story”

  3. anonymous
    Posted February 24, 2017 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    The Colvin photo reminded me of this story about our Governor.

  4. school pants
    Posted February 24, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    He was also tweeting during the Yemen raid.

  5. XXX
    Posted February 24, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Obama and Trump should golf to the death.

  6. anonymous
    Posted March 14, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Trump has spent 15% of his presidency at Trump properties.

  7. Karen T.
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    In case you missed it.

    According to Sean Spicer, when Trump plays golf it’s different.

    Obama playing golf vs. Trump: The difference is in “how you use the game of golf” to advance U.S. interests, said Spicer. Added that Trump uses it as an opportunity to get to know foreign leaders better, like Prime Minister Abe.

    Do you believe this shit?

  8. Meta
    Posted March 27, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Best fact of the day:

    The Secret Service has spent $16k so far on golf cart rentals for Trump trips to Mar-a-Lago.

  9. Meta
    Posted March 30, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    “Donald Trump ‘feels great’ about criticism of spending millions on Mar-a-Lago trips, says Sean Spicer”

    See the video:

  10. The Independent
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    79 days into presidency, Obama hadn’t played golf once. Whereas Trump has already played 16 times

  11. Slate
    Posted April 10, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    I’ll see that and raise you.

    Trump has already spent almost double Obama’s annual travel budget.

  12. Meta
    Posted April 11, 2017 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    From yesterday’s NYT:

    After years of criticizing former President Barack Obama for playing golf and going on private getaways, President Trump has already done more of both in his first 81 days than Mr. Obama, as well as former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Mr. Trump played golf again this past weekend, on Saturday and Sunday.

    He’s played some golf at least 13 times, according to Mark Knoller, a White House correspondent for CBS News.

    Mr. Obama played just once during his first 100 days, but went on to hit a total of 333 rounds during his two terms as president, Mr. Knoller’s data shows.

    Read more:

  13. Shaun King‏ by proxy
    Posted April 17, 2017 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Conservatives don’t hate a golfing President. What they hated was an “uppity negro” golfing President.

3 Trackbacks

  1. […] an ethics probe into ex-lobbyists on his payroll. He told us that, if we elected him President, he’d be too busy working to play golf, and endlessly derided Obama for playing the game, but he took 16 trips to play golf in just his […]

  2. […] the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where, it would seem, he’d gone to do a little golfing, and relax after spending a grueling few days lying to the American people about how the proposed […]

  3. […] the idea of photos being taken of him with a golf club in his hands, especially after all the times he accused Obama of wasting taxpayer dollars for doing pretty much the same thing. While Trump and his team try as best that they can to downplay the president’s golf habit, […]

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