HUNTER SAVERY ’20
This past Sunday, Donald Trump, the President of the United States, visited a golf course for the 14th time in less than three months. Presidents golf, that is not new. What is unusual is that this is the ninth weekend in a row that Trump visited a property named after himself. Considering all of the scandals that swirl around America’s 45th president, it may be difficult to remember that the Donald has frequently criticized President Obama for the time he spent on the golf course during his presidency. Like many, if not most, of Trump’s claims the one about President Obama’s golfing does not hold much water. President Trump has spent 14 of out of his 72 days in office golfing, that is about one round of golf every 5.1 days. Golf Digest recently added up all of the times that President Obama went golfing during his eight years in office, the total is 306 rounds of golf in 2,922 days in office, or one round of golf every 9.5 days. Trump is golfing almost twice as much as Obama did, and this is in his first 100 days, which are supposed to be some of the busiest in the presidency.
Is Trump’s golfing the biggest issue facing his administration? Absolutely not, it pales in comparison to the Russia connection and just about every other controversy that has arisen, but that does not mean Trump should get a free pass for golfing on the job. Republicans have long complained that President Obama spent too much time and government on vacations. However, Trump has repeatedly spent weekends at Mar-a-Lago, his estate in Palm Beach, Florida. Politico estimates that each of his visits costs US taxpayers more than three million dollars. Trump has spent five weekends there thus far, thats roughly fifteen million dollars in tax payer money spent on vacations for a man who has been on the job for less than three months. If things continue at the current rate President Trump is going to run up quite a bill for the constituents he promised to tax less. President George W. Bush was oft criticized for his many visits to his ranch in Texas, but his trips to Texas did not create the same conflicts of interest that Trump’s trips to Mar-a-Lago and his golf courses create. Bush’s ranch, and the estates of other presidents were not businesses that stand to benefit from the president’s association with them. Visiting Mar-a-Lago, or a golf course bearing the Trump name, is an endorsement of a brand from which the president is supposed to have distanced himself.
What is troubling about all of this is that it is yet another example of the kind of hypocrisy that the Trump presidency embodies. On the campaign trail, President Trump railed against the excess of Washington, promising to “drain the swamp.” Yet nearly every weekend he is found on the back nine with other Washington elites. This weekend, he played golf with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, a former opponent in the Republican primaries. Paul and Trump may not be able to come together to pass any significant legislation, but at least they can work as a unit on wasting federal funds during their time off. President Trump was swept into office by the votes of people who felt that Washington is inherently corrupt, wasteful, and self-interested, his golf outings prove them right. Every president should be able to participate in some form of recreation and every worker deserves some time off, but spending fifteen million taxpayer dollars on vacations in less than three months is an outright abuse of federal funds. President Trump, if you plan to drain the swamp, then that means you will have to spend some time away from the links.