By Ben Barrack
For a President who was suddenly concerned with optics after media outlets juxtaposed images of his hitting the golf course while acknowledging news of journalist James Foley’s beheading with Foley’s grieving parents, Barack Obama doesn’t appear to have learned from it. While vacationing in Hawaii, Obama hit the links again, only this time on Christmas eve with a staunch Islamist who last year defended ISIS and supports Sharia law in his country.
With Islam’s contempt for the Christmas holiday, the shamefulness of Obama’s chosen golf partner was amplified by the timing. It’s an issue of tolerance and sensitivity when applying Obama’s own public standard. Predictably, NPR reported on the event but missed the significance:
What do two world leaders do when they find themselves on the same Hawaiian island on Christmas Eve? If you’re President Barack Obama and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, you round up a few aides and make common cause on the golf course.
Both vacationing this week in Oahu, Obama and Najib teed off Wednesday on a cloudy but balmy afternoon at a Marine Corps base, not far from where Obama is renting a home for his two-week stay. The two leaders seemed at ease together, smiling and laughing in casual clothes as they sized up their shots.
About halfway through the round, the media was uncharacteristically permitted to watch the pairing play a hole. Their poor showings notwithstanding, Obama had to have known he was slapping Christians in the face with what he said, considering who he was with:
Media access to Obama’s golf games is typically restricted, but reporters and photographers were permitted to briefly watch the two leaders Wednesday about halfway through their game. Neither leader was having particularly good luck with their short game.
Up first to finish the hole, Najib came up short with his putt. Obama crouched low to line up his shot, but the ball tilted left and evaded the hole. After another failed attempt, he picked up the ball and called it quits. Najib, too, missed his next shot, but a gracious Obama gave him a pat on the shoulder and praised his golf game just the same.
“Merry Christmas,” Obama said as he waved to the media.
Islamic fundamentalists have contempt for Christmas. Consider that Malaysia and Indonesia are neighboring countries that share similar cultures and are both majority Muslim. As we reported recently, Indonesia has been cracking down on Christians who say “Merry Christmas” in that country. In some places, it’s illegal.
The truth is that if Americans knew or cared about Najib’s background, the optics of Obama playing golf with him on Christmas eve would be outrageous. As someone who stressed that he needs to be more careful about optics, Obama must know this.
He must also have known that saying, “Merry Christmas” to the media while doing so was a slap in the face to Christians. Unfortunately, American Christians either don’t get it or don’t care.
Obama must get off on that, which may also help to explain his claim that “ISIL is not Islamic.”