Obama on Meet The Press: The Optics of Golfing After an American Beheading Looked Pretty Bad

Posted: Sep 08, 2014 7:20 AM

While trying to pretend he isn't very good at handling optics or political theater during an appearance on Meet the Press Sunday with new host Chuck Todd, President Obama admitted the optics of going golfing after making a statement about the beheading of American journalist James Foley three weeks ago didn't look so good. 

"There’s no doubt that after having talked to the families, where it was hard for me to hold back tears listening to the pain that they were going through, after the statement that I made, that you know, I should’ve anticipated the optics,” Obama said. "It’s [political theater] not something that always comes naturally to me. But it matters. And I’m mindful of that." 

Even NBC isn't buying Obama's "I'm not good at theater" claim: 

President Barack Obama, once mocked by his political opponents as “the biggest celebrity in the world,” told NBC’s Chuck Todd that the theater of the presidency is “not something that always comes naturally to me.”

Pressed by Todd about his decision to play golf shortly after a Martha’s Vineyard press conference addressing the beheading of journalist James Foley, Obama said he “should have anticipated the optics” of hitting the links.

“Part of this job is also the theater of it,” he said in the exclusive interview for NBC’s Meet the Press. “Well, it's not something that always comes naturally to me. But it matters. And I'm mindful of that.”

The remark offers a stark contrast to common perceptions of candidate Obama, whose 2008 and 2012 victories were memorialized in historic images of inspired crowds, impeccably produced speeches and viral social media pitches.

I would hope President Obama regrets not only the bad "optics" of going golfing after making a statement about Foley (a statement which was made without a tie and in an unbuttoned shirt to send a message that his vacation was being interrupted), but that he understands his behavior was inappropriate considering the circumstances and sent the wrong message to the world about how seriously he was taking the horrifying murder. His actions went beyond "optics" and showed a gross lack of leadership. 

When asked by Todd about his overall strategy toward ISIS, something the administration admitted it didn't have just over a week ago, Obama said, "We’re going to shrink the territory that they control. And ultimately, we’re going to defeat them."

You can watch part of the interview below.