President Donald Trump spent the past five days at the self-dubbed “Southern White House” at his Mar-a-Lago resort. How did he spend his time? Well, he played golf Wednesday and Thursday. And Friday, Saturday and Sunday too.
Which, on one level, who cares? Being president is a stressful job. A president taking a few hours away from sitting at a desk or sitting in meetings with advisers might actually be a good thing for someone under that much pressure. Get out in nature, do something physical – and, you know, all of that.
And presidents long before Trump have enjoyed spending some time on the links: William Howard Taft – he of stuck in the bathtub fame/infamy – was among the first presidents to publicly express his love of golf. (Fun fact: Taft celebrated the completion of a bridge in Washington because it allowed him to get to his favorite golf course sooner.)
But Trump’s golf problem is that he made criticizing his predecessor’s golf habit a cottage industry.
There was this from 2013: “Pres Obama is not busy talking to Congress about Syria..he is playing golf …go figure.”
Then this one in 2014: “Obama has admitted that he spends his mornings watching @ESPN. Then he plays golf, fundraises & grants amnesty to illegals.”
And this in 2016: “President Obama should have gone to Louisiana days ago, instead of golfing. Too little, too late.”
SBNation counted 27(!) times between 2011 and 2016 that Trump attacked Obama for playing golf when he should have been – in Trump’s mind – working.
And during the 2016 campaign, Trump regularly harped on Obama’s golf game as a sign of a lack of commitment to the job.
“I mean he’s played more golf than most people on the PGA Tour, this guy,” Trump said of Obama in his final public appearance of the 2016 campaign in New Hampshire. “What is it, over 300 rounds? Hey, look, it’s good. Golf is fine. But always play with leaders of countries and people that can help us! Don’t play with your friends all the time.”
Trump also repeatedly insisted that although he loved golf – he has said it is his primary form of exercise! – he wouldn’t be playing if he was elected president.
“If I win I may never see my property – I may never see these places again,” he said in August 2016. “But because I’m going to be working for you, I’m not going to have time to go golfing, believe me. Believe me. Believe me, folks.”
Believe him, folks. Believe him.
Here’s the thing: According to CNN calculations, Trump has spent 212 days at a Trump property, including 166 days at a golf club since being elected President. Since the White House almost never confirms that the President is playing golf on these five-ish-hour outings, it’s possible that, well, he isn’t. (Whispers: He is.)
And according to The Washington Post’s math, Trump had played golf one out of every five days he had been President as of this summer. That’s roughly twice as often as Obama played over his eight years in office according to a CBS tally.
So what about Trump’s claim that if he did ever play golf that it would be with world leaders and politicians as a way of conducting business?
Asked earlier this year what was the single biggest accomplishment Trump had secured for the American people on the golf course, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said this:
“I think it would certainly be developing deeper and better relationships with members of Congress in which those relationships have helped push forward the President’s agenda, specifically when it comes to helping get the tax reform and tax cuts passed. A lot of that, I think, and the success of that came from the strong relationships that the President has. And he’s played golf with a number of senators and used that time, certainly, to accomplish that.”
Now, as far as I can tell, Trump has definitely played golf with Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Bob Corker (Tenn.) and Rand Paul (Ky.). He’s played with Office of Management and Budget boss Mick Mulvaney. And Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. And, well, that’s about it when it comes to politicians and world leaders. (Worth noting: The White House doesn’t regularly release Trump’s golfing partners, so it’s tough to know who he plays with unless they tweet about it.)
We do know a few of the people who Trump played with over this past Thanksgiving. His first round– Wednesday – was with legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus, a prominent supporter of his. And Trump played his last round on Sunday with Chris Ruddy, a close friend and the publisher of the conservative NewsMax website.
That isn’t exactly working outside the office.