After initially saying Trump had only played a few holes, the White House reversed itself Monday after professional golfer Rory McIlroy posted on his website that he had played 18 holes with the president."As stated yesterday the President played golf. He intended to play a few holes and decided to play longer," White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said Monday.
I'll gladly concede that this White House's falsehoods are so numerous, giving deceptive information about the president's golf game hardly registers. For that matter, the president's own lies are often so serious, it's hard to get too worked up about this latest misstep.But even with those caveats in mind, it's an odd thing to lie about. Have we really reached the point at which Trump World is so accustomed to pushing bogus and misleading information that even the president's golfing is fair game?Part of the problem, of course, is Trump's preoccupation with Obama's downtime. The Trump Twitter Archive points to Trump whining about his predecessor's golfing over
again. As the Republican put it before his own election, Americans should perceive Obama as lazy and easily distracted because of his preferred form of recreation during his personal downtime.Indeed, Trump said a year ago he'd be a very different kind of president. At an event in New Hampshire in Feb. 2016, while again complaining about Obama golfing, Trump declared
that if he were in office, "I'd want to stay in the White House and work my ass off."In Nov. 2016, Trump moved the goal posts, saying he might golf a bit, but only as part of his presidential duties. "Golf is fine," he said
the day before the election. "But always play with leaders of countries and people that can help us!"Now, as the Huffington Post noted
, Trump's whole perspective has changed.
Since becoming president, Trump has played a lot of golf. Specifically, he has made six trips to the golf course in 30 days. This has caused some people to suggest Trump might be a hypocrite. The White House, which seems sensitive to those allegations, has responded by keeping the press and the public in the dark about Trump's golfing -- sometimes literally, like on Feb. 11, when administration officials made an AP reporter wait in a room with black plastic over the windows while the president played golf.Trump's golfing this weekend was similarly secret. Late Sunday afternoon, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a top White House press aide, told reporters Trump had played "a couple of holes" Saturday and Sunday.It was more than a couple, and it wasn't at all with world leaders:
Even today, the White House only conceded its original statement was wrong after the facts emerged from those Trump played with.To be clear, I'm not criticizing Trump for wanting to go golfing. It's a tough job, and presidents should unwind however they want. It's not something the public should get too worked up about.That said, Trump spent years arguing the exact opposite: he was convinced presidential golfing was a very big deal, it was worthy of incessant and whiny complaints; and it was a credible metric for evaluating a president's diligence and productivity.There are roughly 1,000 things Trump has done wrong that are more substantively ridiculous than this, but when it comes to combining hypocrisy, dishonesty, and viewing Obama through a fresh lens, this golfing flap nevertheless resonates for a reason.