President Obama on Sunday displayed the freedom that comes with not having another election ahead of him, golfing with Tiger Woods in an enclave of privilege here along Florida’s blustery Atlantic coast.
Since his reelection in November, Obama has been talking about the perils facing America’s middle class, highlighted in his State of the Union address last week. On Friday he visited a public high school in his hometown of Chicago, where he spoke in personal terms about the need to reduce gun violence and create jobs in the country’s troubled urban areas. [Just words? It appears so. – Aggie]
The contrast to where he arrived only hours later – and where he will remain through Monday’s federal holiday – could not be more stark. He disappeared late Friday evening behind the gates of the Floridian, a lush golf and residential compound off limits to the public. Neither the public outside those gates, nor the media, has seen him since.
And by adding Woods, the greatest player of his generation, whose fame might only be matched by the notoriety attached to his precipitous adultery-fueled fall from grace three years ago, Obama made clear that he’ll live with criticism over the gap between the harsh realities he is seeking to address in public life and the glamour of his private follies.
On Sunday, though, Obama got the real thing with Woods, a winner of 14 major golf championships who lives not far from here on a $54 million estate in Jupiter Island, Fla.
Woods is not playing in the PGA event in Los Angeles this weekend. He is currently ranked No. 2 in the world, although he has already won a tournament just weeks into the new season and is so far seventh on the winnings list.
The traveling White House press corps has been given no access to Obama on this outing, a guys’ weekend of golf and a cool winter sun. First lady Michelle Obama and the couple’s daughters, Sasha and Malia, took their annual ski vacation in Aspen, Colo., during the long Presidents’ Day weekend.
For much of this outing, the small contingent of the White House press corps accompanying Obama has lobbied with little success for more information about where precisely on the Floridian grounds the president is staying, who he is staying with, and how much contact he has with other people on the grounds.
A photo of Obama on the course with someone as famous as Woods is commonly a moment the “traveling pool” of about a dozen journalists is allowed to witness. White House officials declined to allow that Sunday.
For the long weekend, the pool has been permitted just inside the Floridian gates, where reporters have used as their “filing center” a mirror-ceilinged party bus, the kind used for shouldn’t-be-driving evenings of bacchanalia like bachelor parties.
Maybe, along with a few rounds of golf, they’re playing whooppee and don’t want the public – or Michelle – to catch on?