Why President Obama keeps the press away
Ed Henry, the Fox News correspondent and president of the White House Correspondents Association, released a statement Sunday evening in which he said the press corps had been given no access to the president, who was joined on his outing by star golfer Tiger Woods, and that the WHCA would fight for greater transparency in the days ahead.
"Speaking on behalf of the White House Correspondents Association, I can say a broad cross section of our members from print, radio, online and TV have today expressed extreme frustration to me about having absolutely no access to the President of the United States this entire weekend," Henry said in a statement, relayed in a White House pool report. "There is a very simple but important principle we will continue to fight for today and in the days ahead: transparency."
More details on the president’s golfing getaway at a highly exclusive club are provided by the Associated Press, which reported earlier:
President Barack Obama played golf Sunday with Tiger Woods, the White House said Sunday. Once the sport's dominant player before his career was sidetracked by scandal, Woods joined Obama at the Floridian, a secluded and exclusive yacht and golf club on Florida's Treasure Coast where Obama is spending the long Presidents Day weekend. The two had met before, but Sunday was the first time they played together.
The White House, which has promised to be the most open and transparent in history, has prohibited any media coverage of Obama's golf outing.
The foursome also included Jim Crane, a Houston businessman who owns the Floridian and baseball's Houston Astros, and outgoing US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, a former mayor of Dallas, said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. Crane and Kirk also were part of Obama's foursome on Saturday, the White House said.
President Obama’s latest mini-vacation follows in the wake of his lavish Christmas/ New Year holiday on Kailua Beach in Oahu, Hawaii, which cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $7 million. As veteran White House reporter Keith Koffler noted at the time:
In a move that is rich in irony, President Obama agreed Tuesday night to sign an emergency deficit reduction bill that does almost nothing to rein in spending and then jetted out to Hawaii to resume his vacation at an extra cost of more than $3 million to taxpayers.
The price tag is in addition to more than $4 million that is already being spent on the Obamas’ Hawaii idyll, bringing the total cost of the excursion to well over $7 million. The added cost was incurred because by the time the Obamas return from Hawaii – whenever that is – the president will have used Air Force One to travel to Honolulu and back twice.
According to Koffler, "the total cost to taxpayers of Obama’s vacations to Hawaii since becoming president is likely in excess of $20 million, and possibly much, much more."
It is not hard to see why Barack Obama is rather camera shy over his latest golfing outing, this time with sports superstar Tiger Woods. The optics certainly don’t look good for a president who has in the past called on Americans to make sacrifices, while blatantly refusing to do so himself. It’s certainly not an image the president wants to project to the 12.3 million Americans who are out of work, or the millions more who are also seeking full-time employment. Nor does it suggest he is serious about reining in the $16.5 trillion of debt his government owes, $6 trillion of which was racked up in his first term of office. Flying Air Force One to Florida at a cost of about $180,000 per hour hardly sends the right message to US taxpayers, who have just seen their payroll taxes go up. This is the latest demonstration of an overwhelming culture of impunity in a celebrity-obsessed Obama White House, frequently coupled with a disturbing lack of transparency that would be roundly condemned by the likes of The New York Times, NBC, or CBS if a Republican were in office. It is also a presidency that is rife with hypocrisy, as Obama’s words in Virginia in April 2011 perfectly convey:
We are going to have to ask everybody to sacrifice. And if we’re asking community colleges to sacrifice, if we’re asking people who are going to see potentially fewer services in their neighborhoods to make a little sacrifice, then we can ask millionaires and billionaires to make a little sacrifice.