Americans are nonplussed by years of conservative media attacks on President Obama's golfing habits and largely think such criticisms are unfair, according to a new poll.
Only 31 percent of Americans think that it is fair to criticize presidents for playing golf compared to 54 percent who disagree, according to a YouGov poll conducted August 23-25. Similarly, only 30 percent of respondents say that President Obama "plays too much golf."
Since his inauguration, right-wing media figures have frequently criticized Obama for the rounds of golf he plays in Washington, D.C., and while on vacation, claiming that the activity is indicative of a disinterest in his job as president. Obama has been attacked for playing golf during the crisis in Ukraine, while U.S. Special Forces were en route to their mission against Osama Bin Laden, during or after earthquakes in the United States and Japan, and a variety of other instances.
Bill Burton, who served as deputy White House press secretary in the Obama administration, explained in a Politico Magazine piece that such criticisms are unfounded. Explaining that the president is never off duty, even when he is on vacation, Burton wrote:
Whether you're a partisan or a cynical reporter who has been making the same critique about presidential vacations for decades, I assume you probably agree that human beings function better when they get a little time away. I wouldn't want my surgeon to be some woman who hasn't had a break in 4 years. I wouldn't want to share the road with a truck driver who hasn't had enough sleep. It doesn't matter what your occupation is; you will do your job better if you recharge your batteries. And even though the president is never really on vacation, giving him at least a little downtime is good for all of us.
In the end, it's not about the optics. It's about doing your job. And if the president is doing his - which he is - we should all be able to appreciate the fact that he is taking the opportunity to be a dad, a husband and even a leader of the free world who can clear his head on the golf course.
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza