Partisan attacks over a sitting president’s golf outings are nothing new. During former President Barack Obama’s presidency, he was frequently attacked for his golf outings. USA Today reported his 200th round of golf in 2014, comparing it to President Woodrow Wilson’s 1,200 rounds while in office and President Dwight Eisenhower’s 800. Even Trump attacked Obama during his presidency for golfing too much before taking the title as “golfer-in-chief” himself.
While former President George W. Bush stopped golfing early into his presidency, he was frequently criticized for the numerous vacations he took in office. Former President Bill Clinton has been frequently attacked for allegedly cheating in golf, a claim launched against Trump as well.
“Now George Bush is always on the golf course,” said Rep. Patricia Schroeder, criticizing former President George H.W. Bush in a 1991 New York Times article. “In their world, I guess, the golf course is the place where a lot of business gets done. But if they want to know about real folks, they should watch the Roseanne Barr show more. She’s not out on the golf course.”
All of these common criticisms are meant to manufacture outrage to complain that taxpayer money is being wasted on the president’s leisurely outings. Both political parties have criticized sitting presidents for golfing too much, vacationing too much, or wasting taxpayer money on personal time. Often times the criticisms don’t cite the cost estimates, under the assumption that if the associated costs of a specified item within a budget weren’t there, such as secret service detail, that said item would disappear rather than just be placed elsewhere.
“Presidents pay for their own and their families’ lodging, food and incidentals while on vacation, which may be why they generally prefer to stay at properties they own, as guests of wealthy friends or at the official presidential retreat at Camp David,” wrote Scott Farris for the Washington Post in 2014. “But since presidential vacations are always working vacations, taxpayers cover what it takes to keep the commander in chief working. Lodging and meals are an extra cost, but taxpayers pay the salaries of White House staffers and Secret Service agents whether the president stays in Washington or not, so a presidential vacation does not significantly increase personnel costs.”
Trump’s penchant for golfing is one of the least reprehensible aspects of his presidency. Instead of criticizing Trump for escalating tensions with North Korea, elevating military intervention in Syria, dropping a MOAB in Afghanistan, and proposing drastic budget cuts to programs and agencies that millions of Americans depend on for their livelihood, the New York Times, CNN, Washington Post, the Guardian, GQ, Vanity Fair, MSNBC, the Hill, and several other mainstream media outlets have honed in on Trump’s frequent golf outings. Their audiences are burnt out from the Russian narrative and war hawks praising Trump’s military actions alienate viewers because they don’t represent the majority of Americans who oppose more war. There are plenty of abhorrent policies, actions, hypocrisies, and corrupt avenues to be explored, reported on, and used to criticize Trump. Obsessing over Trump’s golf outings is one of the least constructive and most frivolous ways to “resist” Trump.