MILLER: The 18-hole president

Obama hits the links despite ongoing wars, mounting debt

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For his 73rd round of golf as president Saturday, Barack Obama invited House Speaker John A. Boehner to join him on the greens. The top Democrat teamed up with the most powerful Republican for 18 holes against Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican. There’s something unseemly about a commander in chief going on this jaunt while troops are in harm’s way and the self-imposed July 1 deadline for a deal on spending cuts and the debt ceiling looms. “Boehner has always said that if you’re invited to anything by the president, you should go,” the speaker’s spokesman, Michael Steel, told The Washington Times.

Reporters were only given access to watch the foursome at the first hole of the east course at Andrews Air Force Base, which has a par of 72. There, the president, the speaker and the governor all shot par, which is five. The vice president made a bogey, but he hit a 15-foot putt to get it. Mr. Obama crouched down on the first green to line up a 12-foot shot. He missed, then tapped it in for par.

The president has averaged playing golf about every other weekend in the two-and-half years that he’s been in office (he’s played the past 11 weekends in a row). By comparison, President George W. Bush played only 24 rounds in the same time frame. By October 12, 2003, Mr. Bush had hung up his golf clubs, saying that “playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.” Mr. Boehner, also an avid golfer, is not followed by pool photographers everywhere he goes. His time spent on the course does not reflect on the country in the same way a president’s does.

After the first hole, Mr. Obama patted the speaker on the back in a sign of congeniality. By the end of the almost five-hour round, the team of Mr. Obama and Mr. Boehner had won, although no one would release the final team score spread. The two most powerful men in the country each won a $2 bet from Mr. Biden and Mr. Kasich. The American people will be the real winners if Mr. Boehner had the opportunity to drive a hard bargain on the links that will result in real spending cuts and badly needed entitlement reform.

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