- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gone golfing

President George W. Bush was forced to give up his golfing habit because of criticism that he was acting callously by engaging in the leisure activity while troops at war were being killed. President Obama, on the other hand, is getting a free pass.

Mr. Bush said he put away his clubs in 2003, telling reporters later, “I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.”

Mr. Obama’s actions show he doesn’t think such sacrifice is necessary. He even went on a four-hour golf outing on Memorial Day, after having given the customary address at Arlington National Cemetery. White House aides later told reporters that he took a break in the middle of his session to observe a moment of silent prayer while on the links.

According to Mr. Obama’s official schedule, he has taken least seven golf trips since he was elected president, impressive considering his obligations as leader of the free world and that most courses near the White House don’t open until early spring. Observers note that he takes his time on the course, too. He typically spends anywhere between three and six hours at his outings.

If anything, Mr. Obama likes showing off his golfing skills. A White House pool report filed by reporters on Dec. 29 from Hawaii said that after “hitting a shot that flew low and straight for 75 yards before landing at the front, center-edge of the green,” Mr. Obama asked onlookers: “That was pretty good, right?”

Mr. Obama was invited, and accepted an invitation to be honorary chairman of the Professional Golf Association’s Presidents Cup tour. Professional golfer Tiger Woods also visited Mr. Obama in the White House in April after meeting him at an inauguration event in January.

ACORN name change

Plagued by accusations and convictions of voter registration fraud across the country, a global offshoot of the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now is changing its name to lower the profile of its ties to the beleaguered nonprofit group.

ACORN International, led by former ACORN President Wade Rathke until 2008, is now Community Organizations International.

“ACORN International is a totally separate corporation from ACORN,” Mr. Rathke told Hot Button in an e-mail sent from Sicily, where he was conducting training activities. “We are changing our name, especially in the USA, not to be confused with ACORN.”

Matthew Vadum, a senior editor at the Capital Research Center who has written extensively about ACORN’s various allied groups, says Mr. Rathke is trying to escape any blame for ACORN’s missteps.

“The brand is tarnished and he doesn’t want to be associated with ACORN because of all the problems that he is, ironically, largely responsibly for,” Mr. Vadum said. “He just wants to keep up his community organizing without being burdened by the bad public relations.”

Angel of Iran

A graphic video of a young woman’s murder is being used as a rallying cry online in support of Iranians protesting the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The bloody death of Neda Salehi Agha Soltan, reportedly shot in the heart by Basij police, was captured on video and uploaded to the online video-sharing Web site YouTube, where it has been viewed hundred of thousands of times.

Those supporting the protests say her death has “put a face” on the conflict and call her the “Angel of Iran.”

• Amanda Carpenter can be reached at [email protected] times.com.

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