White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany once weighed in on an American leader golfing while Americans are mourning: It’s inappropriate.
She was complaining in 2017 about former President Barack Obama golfing after the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. Obama was a state senator in Illinois when Pearl was kidnapped and later beheaded by terrorists in Pakistan.
“I think when we’re in a state of mourning, you should take time off from the golf course,” McEnany said on CNN, where she was a commentator at the time and already a staunch Trump defender. She claimed Obama expressed how upset he was at Pearl’s killing, then “rushed off to a golf game.”
She criticized Obama as she defended frequent golfing by Trump, who had bashed his predecessor for spending too much time on the links.
McEnany later apologised for attacking Obama about Pearl. She insisted she had confused names and meant to refer to James Foley, a freelance American journalist who was kidnapped in Syria and beheaded by the Islamic State militant group in 2014. She said both men “should be honored by our leaders,” which apparently means not golfing like Trump is doing this weekend as people fall to COVID-19.
When Foley was killed, Obama was on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. The president held a news conference and played golf that day. Obama acknowledged weeks later in an NBC interview that he realised what a mistake it was to golf after talking to the families and “listening to the pain that they were going through.”
Trump referred to one of the victims when attacking Obama’s golfing in 2014 on “Fox and Friends.” How about “right after the beheading?” Trump said, without mentioning a name. Obama “walks over, has a news conference, then walks right outside and tees it up,” Trump said.
Trump also lashed out at Obama for playing golf during the Ebola outbreak in the US, in which two people died, adding that it “sends the wrong signal.”
Trump called for Obama to stop playing entirely while president. “You know, when you’re president, you sorta say, like, ‘I’m gonna give it up for a couple of years, and I’m really gonna focus on the job,’” Trump said.
After three years in office, Trump has already spent 270% more days on a golf course than Obama had by the same point in his first term, according to an analysis by HuffPost.
Trump’s return to the links this weekend was his first time golfing in more than two months because of the COVID-19 crisis.
Trump wasn’t wearing a face mask while golfing, nor did he appear to be maintaining the social distancing guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.