Speaking this morning in Belfast, President Obama took the opportunity to mix in a little golf talk as he addressed Northern Irish youth.
"Northern Ireland is hosting the World Police and Fire Games later this year -- (applause) -- which Dame Mary Peters is helping to organize. (Applause.)," Obama said, according to the official White House transcript.
"Golf fans like me had to wait a long six decades for the Irish Open to return to the North last year. (Applause.) I am unhappy that I will not get a few rounds in while I'm here. (Laughter.) I did meet Rory McIlroy last year -- (applause) -- and Rory offered to get my swing 'sorted,' -- (laughter) -- which was a polite way of saying, 'Mr. President, you need help.' (Laughter.)"
Obama used the golf point to transition into making a broader point about social and political change in Northern Ireland.
"None of that would have been imaginable a generation ago. And Belfast is a different city. Once-abandoned factories are rebuilt. Former industrial sites are reborn. Visitors come from all over to see an exhibit at the MAC, a play at the Lyric, a concert here at Waterfront Hall. Families crowd into pubs in the Cathedral Quarter to hear 'trad.' Students lounge at cafés, asking each other, 'What’s the craic?' (Laughter and applause.) So to paraphrase Seamus Heaney, it’s the manifestation of sheer, bloody genius. This island is now chic," Obama continued.
And these daily moments of life in a bustling city and a changing country, it may seem ordinary to many of you -- and that’s what makes it so extraordinary. That’s what your parents and grandparents dreamt for all of you -- to travel without the burden of checkpoints, or roadblocks, or seeing soldiers on patrol. To enjoy a sunny day free from the ever-present awareness that violence could blacken it at any moment. To befriend or fall in love with whomever you want. They hoped for a day when the world would think something different when they heard the word “Belfast.” Because of their effort, because of their courage that day has come. Because of their work, those dreams they had for you became the most incredible thing of all -- they became a reality.
It's been 15 years now since the Good Friday Agreement; since clenched fists gave way to outstretched hands. The people of this island voted in overwhelming numbers to see beyond the scars of violence and mistrust, and to choose to wage peace. Over the years, other breakthroughs and agreements have followed. That’s extraordinary, because for years, few conflicts in the world seemed more intractable than the one here in Northern Ireland. And when peace was achieved here, it gave the entire world hope.
Vice President Joe Biden is in Latin America meeting with foreign leaders. His first stop was in Colombia, where he landed yesterday and met with Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos.
The vice president was diplomatic. "We understand that some real progress appears to have been made yesterday on the agrarian front. We applaud every advance -- every advance -- that gets Colombians closer to the peace they so richly deserve. And we look forward to the day when Colombia can fully enjoy a genuine peace dividend."
The White House, via the pool reporter, has revealed that the president today didn't win in golf:
A White House official put out the following readout on the president’s golf outing this afternoon at Andrews Air Force Base with Senators Corker, Chambliss and Udall:
This afternoon, the President, who has the highest handicap of the foursome, paired with up Senator Udall, who has the lowest. Senators Chambliss and Corker, aided by Chambliss's hole-in-one on the 11th, won the match.
Furloughed federal employees who like to play golf are in luck. There's a deal waiting for them, courtesy of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority.
"Thousands of area federal employees will be furloughed on certain days between April and September this year as a result of the Federal Sequester. In response, the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA) is offering a special deal for those furloughed federal employees who enjoy the outdoors and a good round of golf," the group writes in a press release, announcing its sequester deal.
In the first three months of the year, members of the first family have been on three vacations, averaging a vacation a month. And now it's being reported that the first daughters are on a spring break vacation in the Bahamas.
The White House confirms today that President Barack Obama will be vacationing in Florida this weekend. His wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, will be in Colorado. The two daughters will be with Michelle.
From the White House press gaggle aboard Air Force One: