Riddle me this: If there's no photographic evidence of the president playing a leisurely round of golf on Martha's Vineyard, did the (alleged) round of golf really even happen?
On Day 1 of the first family’s nine-day stay on the island, Obama remained mostly out of sight, not emerging from Blue Heron Farm until 12:15 p.m., when his motorcade headed into Vineyard Haven and a visit to Bunch of Grapes Bookstore. (Daughters Sasha and Malia walked out with a bag containing, among other books, David Gessner’s “My Green Manifesto: Down the Charles River in Pursuit of a New Environmentalism,’’ which we recommended Obama read in our column this week.)
But it was later, at the Vineyard Golf Course in Edgartown, where the president’s recalcitrance was most evident. Approaching the eighth tee in a golf cart with friend and frequent golfing buddy Eric Whitaker, the president noticed three TV cameras and a Globe photographer across the street. Rather than stop and be photographed teeing off, the president skipped the hole.
As I've written before, I have no real quarrel with the president stealing away with his family for a little R&R in late August. Presidents remain on the job no matter where they happen to be on the face of the planet. The he takes too much vacation critique was petty and unserious when aimed at President Bush, and the same standard applies to Obama. In fact, this president has taken significantly less time "off" than his predecessor -- or Ronald Reagan, for that matter. So let's dispense with the silliness, and focus on substantive criticisms -- of which there are many. (If you're absolutely fixated on criticizing this particular vacation for some reason, here's some eyebrow-raising fodder).
All that being said, this little eighth hole evasive maneuver is pretty lame. Sure, the optics of the president swinging a golf club on Martha's Vineyard in the middle of an unrelenting economic downturn aren't great. But does the president believe he's fooling anyone by denying the media the opportunity to capture that image? If President Obama is out golfing, he's out golfing -- and golfing entails...swinging a golf club. The fact that he and his handlers chose to skip an entire hole just to side-step some unhelpful photographs undermines the White House's entirely reasonable defense of this vacation. If the president believes he shouldn't be seen golfing these days, then maybe he shouldn't golf. If he believes it's completely fine for him to blow off a little steam on the links -- a view that I happen to share -- then media documentation of that activity shouldn't be sheepishly avoided. Also, what was the buzzword this president sounded so often back in the heady, early days of his administration?
UPDATE - Heh. As I prepared to publish this post, Fox News ran footage of the president teeing off. The video looks like it was shot from a considerable distance, through a patch of trees. So President Obama really was golfing this morning! Now that there's video confirmation that the deed was done, even a simpleton like yours truly is convinced it must have taken place. Nice try though, champ. You really had us going.