Obama, Standing Undaunted for the Unpopular Principle... of His Leisure Time

by Jim Geraghty

From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

President Obama Doesn’t Care What We Think About His Golfing.

After that brutal New York Daily News cover Thursday afternoon, hitting him for going golfing right after his remarks about the beheading of American, President Obama  responded Thursday afternoon… by going golfing.

President Obama doesn’t care if the optics are bad. He doesn’t care if there’s an awful contrast because UK Prime Minister David Cameron canceled his vacation plans. He doesn’t care if he’s getting grief from once-stalwart fans like Chris Matthews and Maureen Dowd. He doesn’t care if Congressional Democrats are openly griping about his disinterest and disconnect in the New York Times, and he doesn’t care if senior Democrats are declaring that he’s completely checked out of his presidency other than attending fundraisers.

He doesn’t care what any of us think.

There are times when resisting the cries of the crowd can be an act of courage. It is brave to stay true to your own conscience and judgment in the face of howls of outrage. Paraphrasing that old saying, “One man with a conviction is a felon New Jersey Democrat majority.”

But I’m not sure “I’m entitled to this time off, and I don’t care what anybody says,” is the right line in the sand to draw. And we’ve already seen what happens to President Obama’s other red lines.

(Speaking of red lines, next time you hear someone bragging that the U.S. forced Bashir Assad to destroy all of his chemical weapons, remind them that they only gave up their illegal chemical weapons and that there is such a thing as legal chemical weapons: “International weapons inspectors have issued preliminary findings that chlorine gas was used in a ‘systematic manner’ in Syria this year, long after the government of President Bashar al-Assad pledged to give up other toxic weapons such as sarin.”)

It’s not just the number of rounds of golf. It’s that his actions subsequent to his bold words demonstrate that he doesn’t really mean anything he’s saying.

Back when I came up with the “All statements from Barack Obama come with an expiration date, all of them” rule, my aim wasn’t quite to say Obama is a pathological liar. (Admittedly, you’re free to draw that conclusion from the record.) In many cases, Obama probably meant what he said when he said it… but then, at some future point, keeping his word became difficult. And he conveniently forgot about his pledge. For example, Obama was probably perfectly fine with the idea of accepting public financing and its attached spending limits in 2008 until the moment he realized or was informed he would be giving up one of his campaign advantages. So he came up with some nonsense about how his campaign’s fundraising success amounts to a “parallel public financing structure” and thus he didn’t need to accept the spending limits.

Most of us look at that and say, “hey, you broke your promise.” Obama would pat us on the head and tell us it’s complicated. He likes to tell us, and probably himself, that he’s a pragmatist. He’s just looking for what works, and keeping a promise that now looks disadvantageous just doesn’t “work,” or to use one of his hackneyed phrases, “just doesn’t make sense.” He’s got a country to fundamentally transform. Omelets, broken eggs, etc. He hand-waves away the little detail that he’s proven himself someone willing to break his word in order to get what he wants, and in fact is echoing all of the “cynical voices” he campaigned against his whole life.

You recall Obama’s exhausted, “we will not rest” pledge, deployed after every crisis. Even when he gives a decent delivery of his remarks, like he did Wednesday, talking about how relentless and determined the U.S. government is… then it’s back to the links. There’s no action that follows; No emergency meetings or summits, no new deployment of military resources to the region. Business as usual. Does anyone really believe his pledges of relentlessness anymore? Does ISIS?

I suppose someone will say, “the president golfing shows the terrorists can’t shake him out of his routine.” What’s so vital about that routine that an interruption of it constitutes a terrorist victory?