There are some obvious and practical reasons not to discourage President Obama’s sporting pursuits. The most obvious of them is that every hour Barack Obama spends on the links is an hour he is not wrecking the republic, distorting its character, throwing monkey wrenches into its constitutional machinery, or appointing sundry miscreants and malefactors to its high offices.It helps to have at least one legislative chamber with the opposition in the majority, and that separation of powers will be useful whether we are confronting a Clinton or a Trump presidency.
Plus: Anybody remember when The Best and The Brightest griped about a do-nothing Presidency? (It takes a long memory, and I still tease my mom, who has matured politically, for once characterizing Ike in that way.)
Eisenhower could afford to goof around on the golf course all day. Nothing of any interest or consequence happened during the years of his presidency, except: The death of Stalin and the Soviets’ acquisition of the hydrogen bomb, Germany’s ascension to NATO, the fall of Dien Bien Phu, the end of the Korean War and a near nuclear confrontation with China, the Suez crisis, the overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh, the Congo crisis, revolution in Cuba, the Formosa Resolution, a military intervention in Lebanon, the U-2 incident, two major civil-rights acts, Brown vs. Board of Education, Little Rock, the further rise and chaotic fall of Joseph McCarthy, and the addition of two new states.In those days, we didn't have a drive-by media inflating every minor challenge into a crisis, perhaps in part because we had correspondents who had been under fire on Normandy or in the Pacific and understood what a real secular crisis looked like, and perhaps because maintaining correspondents in the field was costly (I'm ancient enough to remember "Direct from our newsroom in New York, this is the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, and Richard C. Hottelet at the United Nations, Eric Sevareid in Washington ...)
You know what Eisenhower did? He commissioned a putting green for the White House.
He also handled all that other business with considerable grace and skill. Eisenhower, who had spent 16 years as a major before finally winning promotion — it took him the same amount of time to go from major to lieutenant colonel as it did for him to go from lieutenant colonel to president of the United States — was a patient, wily player of the long game. He had also held the fate of Western civilization — and, arguably, the human race — in his hands in a way that no military leader had before or has since when he was planning D-Day, and so he didn’t lose his cool every time something went wrong, whether it was the French screwing up Indochina or a military confrontation between Egypt and Israel.
The Eisenhower years were in fact crisis after crisis after crisis, and Eisenhower is the great illustration that great leadership often is leadership that nobody notices. It didn’t feel like the nation was in a constant state of crisis.
The Cult of the Presidency got stronger with the Fatal Conceit called Camelot or the Great Society, and it was abetted by the ability of the drive-by-media to quickly hustle correspondents to wherever the latest distraction was.
Perhaps the best corrective a Trump presidency might offer is an executive choosing to play golf rather than attempt to do all the hands-on management his detractors see as driving him nuts. But there will be the usual chorus of "Action Must Be Taken" from the usual suspects.