Sunday was the 2,093rd day of Barack Obama's presidency. He marked the occasion with his 200th in-office round of golf at Fort Belvoir Golf Club in Alexandria, Va.
No doubt the president knew this milestone would bring about a slew of snark from critics. But maybe putting the presidential penchant for golf into perspective might help.
If each of the president's rounds take five hours, then Obama has spent 1,000 hours playing golf. Sounds like a lot of leisure time on the job, right? However, consider that the unique job of commander-in-chief is a 24-7 career choice, meaning President Obama has spent about 2 percent of his presidency on the golf course.
For Obama's critics, that's far too much time on the links not doing the work of the, more or less, half of the people who voted for him. (Wouldn't the half of the electorate that didn't vote for him want him to do nothing, lest he destroy the U.S. more?)
By extension, maybe the president should never sleep. In a 2012 "Vanity Fair" profile, writer Michael Lewis detailed how Obama aims to sleep some six hours each night. And he does that every day.
Then again, with the House in session a decade-low 942 hours in 2013, Obama probably has some time on his hands – at least what amounts to about three-and-a-half hours each week, about the time it takes to watch a football game.
If that's all Obama was doing, watching TV, then there'd be no complaining. It's done behind closed doors. It's not on his official calendar. The media doesn't get the occasional opportunity to watch him watch the tube. It's because this is his 200th time playing golf that the 44th president will be lambasted on Rush Limbaugh's talk radio on Monday, ignoring that Limbaugh was one of Hank Haney's projects.
Golf isn't marathoning, even though it takes about as long for most trained folks to run 26.2 miles as it takes most capable golfers to play 18 holes. If Obama spent endless hours running on a treadmill – physically, since he's already doing it politically – he might be less susceptible to criticism.
Maybe it's that golf's not cheap. It's not for everyone, neither in terms of sheer numbers nor in terms of demographics. The rich and powerful – in fact, many of Obama's very detractors – are stereotypically thought to be the only ones who play golf. The visual of a presidential golfer is an easy one to Etch A Sketch into that of an out-of-touch, rich executive. Then again, there are few sports of the people Obama could play. Slow-pitch softball is probably not an option, though the Congressional softball league is mighty competitive.
It's also easy to paint a golfer as lacking toughness. After all, there is no judo-chopping of cinder blocks at the turn. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin is flexing his black belt and wrestling bears on Russian state-run media. That makes him a tough guy, right?
Golf is the perfect fit for President Obama. It requires deliberation and analysis. It takes time to get right. That's probably the appeal, aside from five hours of not playing politics – ironically, doing something that's been made into a strawman political issue.
If Obama continues to play golf at the same clip he has up to this point, he'll play some 280 rounds in eight years as president. That's 20 short of a perfect game in bowling, which would have been about the only sport he could have done that would not have put his free time under such a large microscope.
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