But Bush 43 eventually caught flack for his golf, and these are even more contentious times. Before the announcement of the O-Bo Showdown, golf had become Something You Don't Want to Get Caught Doing, like, say, being Facebook friends with Hugo Chavez. Ethics legislation passed in 2007 that tightened restrictions on when and how lobbyists can play with politicians and their staffers went a long way toward turning golf into the wrong kind of four-letter word. Much of that had to do with high-powered lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who a year earlier pleaded guilty to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials, golf boondoggles among the indiscretions that got Abramoff in trouble.
Republicans now count up Obama's days on the golf course as carefully as Democrats once tallied Bush 43's, each side putting a their-guy-is-fiddling-while-Rome-burns spin to the criticism. As recently as 2005, Boehner bragged to Golf Digest that he got in 100 rounds a year. Now he won't even talk about his game. All of the congressmen interviewed for this story issued some kind of proviso that their weekend golf games are positively and absolutely not the reason for legislative gridlock. "It's good talking to you," said Mike Conaway, a Republican representative from Texas who usually gets out once a week at Midland Country Club in his home district, "but I don't want my constituency to think I'm neglecting my duties." When he joked about losing money in friendly course wagers, Conaway broke the phone interview for a moment to talk to his wife, Suzanne. "She doesn't want you thinking that it's too much money," he said, "because it isn't."
But maybe all that will be change on June 18. Perhaps the best idea is for the President and the Speaker to team up. There will undoubtedly be video opportunities, and imagine the nation healing as it watches the two men strolling side by side down the fairway, lining up each other's putts and offering a "Great shot, John!" and a "Well-played, Mr. President!" from time to time.
It's such a wonderful idea. Now let's just hope they don't end up like Tiger and Phil.
Now on GOLF.com
Learn the who, what, where of the O-Bo Showdown at GOLF.com/presstent