Russell Kirk famously responded to conspiracy theorists questioning President Dwight Eisenhower’s patriotism by pointing out that “Ike’s not a Communist. He’s a golfer.” The gaudy bills for Eisenhower’s successor’s frequent trips to the fairways may leave critics wondering if Obama’s not a president but a golfer.
Judicial Watch obtained records from the Air Force showing that flight costs for the commander in chief’s two recent golf outings reached $2,952,278. The revelation of the taxpayer’s price tag, which doesn’t include food, lodging, and other associated costs, stems from Freedom of Information Act requests made by Judicial Watch in February and March.
A February 17-20 trip to Palm Springs cost the Air Force $210,877 an hour, which, at 9.8 hours for the trip, comes to a total of $2,066,594.60. Obama golfed at Walter Annenberg’s Sunnylands and Larry Ellison’s Porcupine Creek while in California. “President Barack Obama traveled to California Friday to highlight the state’s drought emergency at two events near Fresno, calling for shared sacrifice to help manage the state’s worst water-shortage in decades,” Time‘s Zeke Miller observed in February. “He then spent the rest of the weekend enjoying the hospitality of some of the state’s top water hogs: desert golf courses.”
A March golfing trip to Key Largo, Florida totaled $885,683.40 in flight costs, according to the response to a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act request made on March 10. In Florida, to the backdrop of a push to fight income inequality, the president golfed two rounds among the other one percenters at the tony Ocean Reef Club, which features a marina, hotel, salon, and more than a dozen restaurants. The Ocean Reef website’s frequently-asked-questions section inquires about the nearest airport: “Well the Closest airport is right here at the club with over a 4,000′ runway for private aviation.”
“It is clear that the Obamas continually abuse the perks of the president’s office at taxpayer expense,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “And it is particularly interesting that Obama has chosen to take not one but two luxury vacations back-to-back while inveighing against ‘income equality.’ President Obama’s waste of the hard-earned tax dollars of working Americans on unnecessary luxury travel is an abuse of office.”
It’s surely not an abuse of his health. Golf does a body good. A budget? Not so much.
If the recent golf getaways to the Sunshine and Golden States serve as an accurate barometer of costs, the president’s golf trips have burdened taxpayers with more than $100 million in flight charges alone. According to a site tracking the president’s excursions to the fairways, he has played golf more than 160 times since taking the oath of office. Like the 34th president, the 44th president likes the links. Unlike his frugal presidential fore(!)bear, who presided over three budget surpluses, the spendthrift who has added $7 trillion to the national debt doesn’t know much about stewardship.
But at least like Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford before him, President Obama can say that when it comes to golf: I like Ike.