Obama under fire for California golf outing amid drought; media buries it

President Obama is coming under fire again for his apparent golf addiction — this time by his usual allies on the environmental front.

Obama spent Father’s Day weekend in the drought-stricken state of California and did some politicking about climate change at a  Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser hosted by hedge fund manager and leading Democrat contributor Tom Steyer and the CEO of Beneficial State Bank, Kat Taylor.

Then he jetted off to Palm Springs for some golf.

Obama Palm Springs Golf
Photo by: Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun via USA Today.

Golf courses, however, take large amounts of water to maintain and, in a state in the grip of a devastating drought, many are blasting the president for the poor optics.

The New York Times was one the few outlets to even cover the controversy, although they buried it in the paper.

While environmentalists generally support the president, some grumbled that he needed to take up a new hobby or indulge it someplace else.

“President Obama needs to take a mulligan and rethink golfing in Palm Springs in the middle of a drought,” said Erich Pica, the president of Friends of the Earth, using a golfing term that refers to a do-over after a bad shot. “It takes copious amounts of water to maintain a golf course, and it just sends the wrong message to the people of California just as they are being asked to cut back on water use.”

On April 1, Gov. Jerry Brown of California ordered a 25 percent statewide reduction in water consumption, and some places were forced to cut back even more. Some affluent towns may run out of water entirely, farmers have been forced to fallow thousands of acres, and state leaders like Mr. Brown have taken symbolic steps like letting the grass go brown at their houses.

Now, anyone who hoses down a car or sidewalk is likely to get the same stares as dog walkers in Central Park who refuse to clean up after their pets.

Some people have even begun a social media campaign to shame neighbors who waste water and to put the spotlight on celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Barbra Streisand whose enormous lawns around their mansions require huge amounts of water to maintain.

Amid this crisis, Air Force One banked out of a crystalline blue sky and landed in what boosters have long described as “America’s desert oasis.” Having already exercised for nearly an hour in the gym of the InterContinental Hotel in San Francisco, the president — wearing a striped shirt with sleeves rolled up, light trousers and brown shoes — jogged down the stairs and posed for pictures with Representative Raul Ruiz and his two infant daughters. He was then driven through blocked streets to Sunnylands, the former Annenberg estate where political leaders and celebrities have come to rest and meet for decades.

Carmine Sabia


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