President Trump has claimed that the reason he, unlike other presidents, hasn’t visited U.S. troops abroad yet is that he is very busy, yet he seems to find plenty of time to do an enormous amount of golfing, which is why The New York Times in a searing editorial recommended that Trump “put down the golf clubs” and “visit the troops”. Trump, for instance, is planning to spend 16 days over the upcoming holidays at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, which he has called the “Winter White House”, where he spends a lot of time in the winter, including going golfing, which certainly gives the impression that he is not actually too busy to visit the troops. According to The Hill:
The New York Times is calling on President Trump to “put down the golf clubs” and “visit the troops.” The newspaper in an editorial on Sunday ripped Trump for not visiting U.S. military troops stationed overseas, normally a staple of sitting presidents…He (Trump) told Fox News’s Chris Wallace last month that he had not visited troops because he has had an “unbelievable busy” schedule. “I’ve had an unbelievable busy schedule and I will be doing it. On top of which you have these phony witch hunts. On top of which — I mean, we’ve just been very busy. But I will be doing that,” he said. The Times editorial board wrote, however, that “so far, he’s all talk and no boots on the ground.”…“What Mr. Trump’s excuses all reveal, however, is a basic misunderstanding. Visiting soldiers and sailors and Marines in the field isn’t about the president. It is about the troops,” the Times editorial board wrote.
The president is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, even if that president is Donald Trump. It isn’t just a boost to morale for deployed troops to have a visit from their commander-in-chief, it also shows that the president is being responsible for their decisions to deploy troops by seeing the consequences of those decisions. According to The New York Times:
President Trump is happy to send the military to the border as a political prop before the midterm elections, to order up a grand parade down Pennsylvania Avenue for his review and to berate athletes who kneel during the national anthem as disrespectful of the military. But visiting the troops that he has ordered to the front lines in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria has been a bridge too far for this commander in chief. “I’m going to a war zone,” Mr. Trump told reporters in November, when pressed about his conspicuous lack of war zone visits. So far, he’s all talk and no boots on the ground…A visit from the president isn’t just about raising morale and smiling for a few photos, though that can mean more to a young grunt than most civilians may realize. Americans want a president who isn’t afraid to look at and reflect upon the consequences of his decisions.
Many presidents have golfed, of course, but the key difference with Trump revolves around hypocrisy. Before taking office, Trump had said he wouldn’t have time to golf as president and excoriated President Obama for ever golfing, but then when Trump took office he proceeded not only to golf, but to golf far more frequently than President Obama did. With Trump there is the additional consideration that Trump does a lot of this golfing at resorts he owns, which means those resorts benefit financially from the stays of Trump’s aides and Secret Service detail while he is there, contributing to the impression that Trump is gaining financially from his office, which is not supposed to happen. So, with Trump, golf is not just golf.