During Times of Crisis, President Obama Goes Golfing, Fundraising

By Zoey DiMauro | August 29, 2014 | 2:09pm EDT

President Obama on the links in Martha's Vineyard with former NBA star Alonzo Mourning the day after American journalist James Foley was beheaded by ISIS terrorists. (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) -- President Obama was recently criticized for playing golf immediately after giving a speech about the brutal beheading of American journalist James Foley by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). But a close look at his presidency shows that Obama’s behavior was part of a pattern.

At times of crisis throughout his presidency, Obama has often left the White House to go golfing, vacationing or fundraising.

Even sympathetic members of the media have noticed the trend.

"It’s understandable that Obama would want to get away from it all, but for a president struggling to build support for his foreign policy, vacationing during a crisis is no day at the beach," wrote Washington Post opinion writer Dana Milbank.

“Playing a round at the Farm Neck Golf Club was appropriate. Giving a speech after the murder of James Foley was necessary. It is the immediate juxtaposition of beheading and golfing that should have raised questions,” Michael Gerson remarked in a Post oped.

Although Obama called Foley’s parents to convey his condolences, neither the president nor anyone from the White House attended the journalist's memorial service in New Hampshire, even though three White House aides were dispatched to Ferguson, Missouri to attend the funeral of a black teen killed by a police officer.

Earlier this month, the commander-in-chief was also playing golf at Martha’s Vineyard during the funeral of Major General Harold Green, the highest-ranking U.S. officer killed in battle since the Vietnam War, who was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

In fact, few international or domestic emergencies have diverted the president from his pre-planned activities.

As The New York Times noted, “with some rare exceptions, the public relations team around the president has remained consistently stubborn about refusing to let the never-ending stream of political, economic or international crises affect Mr. Obama’s daily schedule.”

For example, shortly after Ukrainian separatists shot down the commercial airplane Malaysian Flight 17, which resulted in the death of 298 people, including one American, the president gave a brief speech before leaving the White House to eat lunch at a barbeque restaurant in Delaware and attend two fundraisers in New York.

When reporters asked White House spokesman Josh Earnest if going ahead with political events in light of the tragedy was a mistake, Earnest defended Obama, saying that the president had all the tools he needed to do his job on the road.

Pressing national issues have often had to compete with fundraisers for the president’s time and attention.

In early July, President Obama traveled to Dallas, Texas for a fundraiser but decided not to witness the mass influx of illegal aliens then pouring over the Mexican border, saying, “I’m not interested in photo-ops.”

But that claim rang hollow to many who had observed his activities earlier that very same week.

(AP photo)

“It’s not like the president is averse to all photo-ops,” CNN’s John King remarked. “We showed you yesterday he was fist-bumping with a guy in a gorilla suit, a guy in a horse head showed up, he was drinking beer with the governor of Colorado. So it is hard for him to say he doesn’t do photo-ops when he’s doing a lot of photo-ops.”

Obama attended several Democratic fundraisers around the country before publicly addressing the scandal of veterans who died waiting for treatment at Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals.

On May 21, three weeks after the story first broke, the president finally gave a speech about the VA misconduct, saying, “If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and I will not tolerate it -- period.”

But the next day, he was off attending two more fundraisers in his hometown of Chicago.

In the fall of 2013, Obama similarly failed to comment on major problems with the Healthcare.gov website until three weeks after it was launched.

“There's no sugarcoating it. The website has been too slow. And I think it's fair to say that nobody's more frustrated by that than I am,” Obama finally said on October 2--a day after he played a round of golf.

The Obamacare website’s serious glitches continued until mid-November, during which time the president played four more rounds of golf and attended at least 10 more fundraisers.

In 2012, Obama continued on the campaign trail the day after the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. After visiting the State Department, Obama flew to Las Vegas to speak at a boisterous campaign rally.

He thanked Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus and responded “I love you back” to a cheering audience member before addressing the situation in Benghazi, where four Americans were murdered, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

"No act of terror will dim the light of the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world, and no act of violence will shake the resolve of the United States of America,” Obama said.

In April of 2010, the president of Poland and other top-ranking Polish officials died in a plane crash on their way to Russia. Obama had originally planned to attend the funeral, but volcanic ash in the atmosphere from an erupting volcano in Iceland prevented him and several other world leaders from flying.

Instead, Obama played golf that afternoon.

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