Amid America’s economic doldrums and as world events careen out of control, President Obama will not let a crisis deter him from unwinding. This same President, advising the American people how to deal with the financial crisis, once said, “If you’re a family trying to cut back, you might skip going out to dinner, you might put off a vacation.” Here are the Top 10 Obama Leisure Activities:
1. Golf: A lot of Americans wish they had the time, let alone the money, to hit the golf links twice a month. The day after the Japan earthquake and tsunami, Obama played his 61st round of golf, fewer than 26 months into his presidency.
2. Foreign travel: All modern Presidents have taken foreign trips, but President Obama knows how to combine pleasure with business, often picking hot vacation spots such as this weekend’s trip (with his family) to Rio, where sightseeing will be mixed with meetings. And Michelle Obama’s extravagant summer trip to Spain with an entourage of friends and security (but not her husband) during the depths of America’s economic woes invited comparisons to Marie Antoinette.
3. Vacations: The Obama clan likes to spend time on tony Martha’s Vineyard in August and go to Hawaii for a lengthy family visit around the Christmas holiday. They’ve taken a long weekend in Chicago. And a trip out West to the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. And time at a beach in Florida. Plus several jaunts to New York for high-society events. In fact, he has taken nearly a dozen vacations since becoming President.
4. Dining out: Whether dining high-on-the-hog or slumming it at Ben’s Chili Bowl, this is a President that likes to eat. After all, his culinary exploits once inspired this headline on a blog following the first family during a Martha’s Vineyard vacation: “Obamas Depleting U.S. Lobster Supplly.”
5. Playing basketball: At times it seems that Obama would rather be an NBA star than President. He has a regular pickup basketball game with friends, and even played some hoops last summer with NBA stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. But his passion comes with some danger: Last year an opponent’s elbow cut the first lip, requiring 12 stitches.
6. White House concerts: Nothing like inviting famous singers and musicians to your house for a little concert. The first couple has been serenaded at the White House by the likes of Paul McCartney, Joan Baez, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, and Bob Dylan during performances honoring Motown, Broadway, and “Music that tells the story of America,” including “Songs of the Civil Rights Movement.”
7. White House theater: The Obamas have been getting good use of the White House theater in recent months, having guests over for a Super Bowl party, movie screenings, and sporting events. During a screening of Thurgood, an HBO film about Thurgood Marshall, he shared popcorn with Al Sharpton, and for a Chicago Bulls-Charlotte Bobcats game he invited Illinois and North Carolina lawmakers over for Chicago-style hot dogs and pulled pork, with Dove bars for dessert.
8. Sporting events: Obama likes to take in a ball game from time to time. He often snarls Washington traffic while attending basketball games at the Verizon Center or baseball at Nationals Park. Once, when attending a Georgetown-Duke basketball game, he was interviewed at courtside and briefly called the game for the TV audience. “After retirement, I’m coming after your job,” he told CBS announcer Clark Kellogg.
9. Youth sports: During a crisis, Obama can act decisively and selflessly. He stepped in when his daughter’s basketball coach couldn’t make it to a game and coached the team himself, even though his daughter Sasha was on a ski trip to Vail, Colo. , with her mother.
10. NCAA brackets: As Japan’s nuclear crisis neared a meltdown and Libyan rebels were being routed, Obama found time to videotape his NCAA basketball tournament picks for ESPN to air later in the week. To his credit, the President did pause long enough to urge Americans to think of Japan while filling out their basketball brackets.