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May 31

Written by: Diana West
Tuesday, May 31, 2011 6:49 AM 

I greatly appreciate this blog (below) by British commentator Nile Gardiner on the president's crummy decision to get in a golf game after fufilling his presidential duties at Arlington on Memorial Day. It's not that anyone begrudges the president his recreation; it's not even that most Americans don't use the day for recreation themselves. But there is an unseemly symbolism is the decision to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown in the morning and hit the links in the afternoon. Barack Obama is, after all, a symbol himself, despite himself, and there are just too many fresh graves at Arlington for a commander-in-chief with 100,000-plus troops in harm's way  to feel like playing a game -- and to let mourning Americans and the world know he feels like playing a game -- on the day we set aside to remember them. As Gardiner writes, it's "poor taste," at the very least.

Would that Gardiner's post were a reality check and not just a well-aimed blast of indignation from a sensibility beyond our soggy, sorry mainstream. Still, maybe righteous indignation is catching....

He writes:

Can you imagine David Cameron enjoying a round of golf on Remembrance Sunday? It would be inconceivable for the British Prime Minister to do so, and not just because of the usually dire weather at that time of the year. Above all, it would be viewed as an act of extremely bad taste on a day when the nation remembers and mourns her war dead. I can’t imagine the PM even considering it, and I’m sure his advisers would be horrified at the idea. And if the prime minister ever did play golf on such a sacrosanct day he would be given a massive drubbing by the British press, and it would never be repeated.

Contrast this with President Obama’s decision to play golf yesterday, Memorial Day, for the 70th time during his 28-month long presidency. For tens of millions of Americans, Memorial Day is a time for remembrance of the huge sacrifices made by servicemen and women on the battlefield. The president did pay his respects in the morning, laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, but later in the day traveled to Fort Belvoir to play golf. The story has not been reported so far in a single US newspaper, but was made public by veteran White House correspondent Keith Koffler on his blog. Here’s Koffler’s report:

The business of memorializing our war dead done, President Obama headed out to the Fort Belvoir golf course today, finding his way onto the links for the ninth weekend in a row.

Obama earlier today laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and met with families of those killed in battle. But he emerged from the day’s solemnity to go golfing for the 12th time this year and the 70th time of his presidency.

The decision to golf on Memorial Day invites comparison with President George W. Bush, who gave up the game early in his presidency and said he did it out of respect for the families of those killed in Iraq.

Does it matter if the president chooses to play golf on Memorial Day, and for the second time in his presidency (he did so as well in 2009)? I think it does, and it displays extraordinarily bad judgment, not only by Obama himself but also by his advisers. His chief of staff for example should have firmly cautioned against it. President Obama is not just any American but Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces. The United States is currently engaged in a major war in Afghanistan with over 100,000 troops on the ground, and more than 1,500 have already laid down their lives for their country.

The least the president can do on Memorial Day is spend the whole day with veterans and servicemen’s families while acknowledging their sacrifice. As Koffler points out above, President George W. Bush stopped playing golf out of respect for the families of Iraq War dead. This demonstrated not only good judgment but humility and respect for the men and women who keep America safe. It is little wonder that, as Gallup reveals in a new poll, US military personnel and veterans give Barack Obama lower marks for his job performance than members of the general public. The president’s actions smack of poor taste, as well a lack of empathy and support for the US military, hardly the kind of leadership the White House should be projecting at a time of war.

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