Golf As A Presidential Issue

It seems that my fears have been realized: golf is going to be an issue in this political campaign; or more specifically, Obama’s golf habit is going to be an issue in this campaign. Likely GOP Nominee Mitt Romney has even got a website, FortyFour.Com, which takes a shot at the First Golfer and asks people to donate $18 to send him on a permanent vacation.

Photobucket

Now I’m no fan of the job performance of the President, but I think that golf isn’t a legitimate campaign issue. Lots of Presidents have played golf as a way of getting away from the pressure cooker of the White House. In recent years, Bill Clinton was probably most well known for his habits, including cheating (on golf, as well as in other areas). And we know that George W. Bush gave up the game for the duration of the Iraq War. George H.W. Bush was an avid golfer who since has been named to the Golf Hall of Fame. Reagan gave up golf after an assassination attempt went awry. Gerald Ford, a stellar athlete also played the game.

Going back a few years, more, I think a solid argument can be made that in golf terms, Dwight Eisenhower was as important a president as we’ve had. His well known obsession and his popularity combined to turn the game into a national pastime.

William Howard Taft played:

William Howard Taft Golfing

And he apparently played enough that it was used a political fodder in the humor magazines of the time:

Taft Golf Political Cartoon

Woodrow Wilson played—apparently quite a bit:

As did Warren Harding

Warren Harding Golfing

So too, did more than a few Supreme Court Justices. Below you’ll see John Marshall Harlan:

John Marshall Harlan 1901

And Justices McKenna and Pitney.

Justices Play Golf

For me, the key is what they do off the course, not how much time they spend on it.

(note: most of these photos are from the Library of Congress, with the exception of Life’s photo of Wilson)

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3 thoughts on “Golf As A Presidential Issue”

  1. IMHO, those who are interested in growing the game should really come down hard on (ie. not support) any presidential candidates who use golf in negative ads.  It’s bad for the game, ridiculous and demonstrates desperation and a lack of achievement on the part of that candidate.

    In any case, our next president IS going to be a golfer because we ARE going to reelect Barack Obama.

    Love the historical images.

    Reply
  2. FWIW, my thought from four years ago was that whomever won—McCain or Obama—would be a one term president. I didn’t think that the economic realignment would be over in four years (and it isn’t), and only two Presidents have ever been reelected in a serious economic downturn: James Madison and Franklin Roosevelt. Madison won reelection because there was just one political party at the time; Roosevelt was—- well, Roosevelt.

    If Obama wins, he’ll do so against the winds of history.

    Reply
  3. I agree on the seeming improbability from an historical standpoint however, I do believe that:

    A)People are smarter and better informed than they sometimes seem, and many have been able to put the economic realignment… or lack there of… into perspective. Most realize that the economic picture would not have been better had McCain been elected.

    and

    B)Never… in the history of presidential politics has there ever been such a lame-assed (for lack of a better word) and/or unelectable field of candidates as there currently is for the Republican nominee. ;o)

    Reply

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