The headline was brutal. “Bam’s Golf War: Prez tees off as Foley’s parents grieve,” read the cover of Thursday’s New YorkDaily News. Obama’s gaffe was this: He had denounced the beheading of James Foley from a vacation spot in Martha’s Vineyard, then went to the golf course. Seems like he had a great time. Such a great time that he returned to the Farm Neck Golf Club—sorry, membership is full—the next day.
Technically, Obama’s vacation began on August 9. It is scheduled to end on Sunday, August 24. With the exception of a two-day interlude in D.C., it has been two weeks of golf, jazz, biking, beach going, dining out, celebrating, and sniping from critics, not all of them conservative, who are unnerved by the president taking time off at a moment of peril.
Attacking the president for vacation is usually the job of the out party. But these days it is the job of all parties. Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, ISIL, Ebola, child migrants on the border, racial strife in Ferguson, an American murdered by the caliphate—critics say the president who danced to every song at Ann Jordan’s birthday party seems remote and aloof from, and even mildly annoyed by, such concerns.
I disagree. Not with the judgment that Obama is detached, dialing it in, contemptuous of events that interfere with his plans. I disagree with the idea that this August has been different, in any meaningful way, from the rest of Obama’s second term. For this president, the distinction between “time off” and “time on” is meaningless. For this president, every day is a vacation. And has been for some time. He is like Cosmo Kramer of Seinfeld. “His whole life is a fantasy camp,” George Costanza says of his friend. “People should plunk down $2,000 to live like him for a week.” Imagine what they would pay to live like Obama.