After a strongly worded statement Wednesday condemning the beheading of American journalist James Foley at the hands of his Islamic State captors, President Barack Obama decided to hit the golf course with friends as he vacationed on Martha’s Vineyard. The optics of the situation has led political observers on both sides of the aisle to accuse the president of being tone-deaf. While many have defended Obama’s entitlement to a vacation, they also said the decision to play a round of golf after responding to the gruesome video of Foley being beheaded wasn’t the right move.
“I’m sorry, Mr. President, but your behavior [Wednesday] was not about thumbing your nose at or simply ignoring those who refuse to acknowledge that you have a right to a vacation and to some time playing a game that relaxes you. It was also not about those who refuse to appreciate that you can do your job anywhere on the planet with the same effectiveness as sitting behind your desk at the White House,” Rick Ungar, a liberal contributor to Forbes magazine, wrote. “It was, instead, about revealing a side of yourself that Americans, of all political stripes, cannot help but be troubled by -- a coldness that revealed a complete lack of understanding of the classy thing to do at a difficult moment.”
The group behind Foley's beheading now calls itself the Islamic State; it was formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant (ISIL).
Ungar argued that instead of golf, Obama could have been at the side of Foley’s family in New Hampshire, only a 150-mile helicopter ride from Martha’s Vineyard. But Ungar also acknowledged that that decision may have led to another criticism -- that Obama would have been playing politics and using the Foley family for a photo-op.
Democratic strategist Jim Manley told the New York Times that the video of Foley being beheaded “was just so shocking that the idea that he was going to immediately run to the golf course was just a little too much for folks; it was tone-deaf.”
â€” Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) August 20, 2014
So, I leave for 1 day & not much changes. Obama strikes back against the beheading of #Foley w a pedantic speech, then goes golfing
â€” Tammy Bruce (@HeyTammyBruce) August 21, 2014