Republicans slammed Obama for golfing, signing executive orders, and going on vacation, but are mostly silent when Trump does the exact same things.
The United States passed a grim milestone over the weekend as the nation's coronavirus death toll climbed past 125,000.
Yet, even as the number of virus cases continued to skyrocket, thanks to outbreaks in Sunbelt states like Arizona, Florida, and Texas, Donald Trump spent his weekend on the golf course.
Golfing, of course, is one of a number of things for which Republicans — including Trump himself — used to criticize former President Barack Obama when the latter inhabited the White House.
Now, more than three years into his tenure, Trump has done many of the same things Republicans accused Obama of doing. Yet they have not raised issue with Trump thus far, despite criticizing Obama for doing the same.
Trump even attacked Obama for hitting the links during an Ebola outbreak in Africa back in 2014.
"President Obama has a major meeting on the N.Y.C. Ebola outbreak, with people flying in from all over the country, but decided to play golf!" Trump tweeted at the time.
Since Trump took office, however, he has golfed far more than Obama ever did — including during times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
To date, Trump has gone golfing at least 122 times, costing taxpayers at least $136 million, according to Trump Golf Count, a website that tracks the outings.
It is also possible Trump has golfed more times than that, as he's spent 269 days at Trump golf properties, according to NBC News. The White House often refuses to comment on whether Trump played a round of golf while there.
Obama, for his part, played 333 rounds of golf in eight years.
Criticizing the Obama family for going on vacation while Obama served in the Oval Office was a staple on Fox News, which often attacked the the former president over the price tag for that travel.
The outlet especially loved to criticize Obama for traveling to Hawaii — his birthplace — for vacations.
Ahead of the 2012 election, Fox News published a list of 16 vacations Obama and his family took in his first year in office.
Trump, however, has taken far more vacations since his inauguration in January 2017, spending 365 days at Trump properties so far, according to NBC News.
Additionally, Trump's adult children receive taxpayer-funded security when they go on vacations, further adding to the cost.
For example, a hunting trip Donald Trump Jr. took to Mongolia last year to kill rare mountain sheep cost taxpayers $75,000, according to a report from the good government group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
A spokesperson for Trump's son later defended the trip, claiming he had "paid for his trip to Mongolia on his own, flew commercial and timely applied for and secured all required permits through a third-party outfitter—as is standard in the industry."
"As a protectee of the U.S. Secret Service, Mr. Trump has no say in or control over the security protocols that are deemed necessary and appropriate by the Service," they added.
Yet Trump has issued executive orders at a far faster clip than Obama ever did.
Obama issued 147 executive orders in his first four years as president, according to data from the Federal Register.
Trump has already issued 166 executive orders in a shorter time period, according to Federal Register data.
But Republicans aren't attacking Trump for governing like a king.
"@POTUS has taken decisive action on this issue & now it is up to Congress to act. We must pass the #JUSTICEAct," Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN) tweeted on June 22, referring to Trump's decision to sign an executive order on police reform.
Acting on immigration without congressional approval
Speaking of executive orders, Republicans railed against Obama for signing executive orders on immigration during his time in office, after the Republican Congress blocked efforts to pass comprehensive reform.
Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, for instance, by executive order, which offers deportation protection to undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. The order is now overwhelmingly popular with the American electorate, and Trump was recently blocked from trying to undo it by the Supreme Court.
Trump, meanwhile, has also signed multiple executive orders on immigration — only to receive praise from Republicans.
One of his first actions in office was to sign the travel ban, a transparent attempt to make good on his 2016 campaign promise to ban Muslims from the United States.
Attacking Fox News
When Obama called out Fox News for its pro-Republican rhetoric that he said made governing harder, Republicans were up in arms that he would dare criticize a news outlet.
Fox News got in on the criticism too, writing in an editorial that Obama was mad that Fox News wouldn't "fall in line and treat him as emperor."
Yet Trump has waged all-out war on the media, attacking any outlet that doesn't report the world exactly as he sees it "fake news," and calling reporters the "enemy of the people."
He's even attacked Fox News when it doesn't cover him favorably and questions his actions.
"There's something going on at Fox, I'll tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it," Trump said last August after a Fox News poll showed him with a 43% approval rating.
"I think Fox is making a big mistake," he continued, "because, you know, I'm the one that calls the shots on that — on the really big debates."
Republicans have failed to push back on that criticism as they did to Obama. By contrast, some seem to be siding with Trump in his attacks on the typically pro-Trump outlet.
On Saturday, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), even tweeted that he was angry Fox News host Sean Hannity couldn't help revive Trump's flailing reelection bid.
"Does FOXNews want Trump Re-elected?" he wrote.
Not being bipartisan
Back in January 2015, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell attacked Obama for not being bipartisan enough.
"His time for running is over," McConnell said of Obama at the time. "His time for governing is here. And in order to accomplish things over the last two years of the Obama administration, he needs to work with the Republican Congress."
Of course, Obama did try and work with Republicans. During the health care debate in 2009, Obama met with them and sought their input on the Affordable Care Act, only for Republicans to turn around and vote en masse against the legislation.
Trump, however, has largely avoided working with Democrats.
Back in May 2019, Trump said he wasn't going to work with Democrats at all unless they stopped investigating his actions and performing oversight.
He's also excluded Democratic leaders from things like the renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement that they helped pass and the signing of the bipartisan coronavirus relief package, instead standing only with Republicans as he signed the bill.
Using a teleprompter
Mocking Obama for using a teleprompter was a favorite GOP attack tactic, with Republicans claiming that Obama did so because he didn't have a command of the issues.
However, Trump has used teleprompters numerous times, usually when his aides don't want him to go off topic and cause political problems.
Of course, even when Trump uses teleprompters he often goes off script, blowing off his aides' attempts to control the message.
Sometimes, the teleprompter speeches themselves are so dark and off base with what Americans want that they lead to criticism anyway — such as Trump's address urging violent crackdowns against racial justice protesters on June 1.
During the Ebola outbreak in Africa in 2014, Republicans criticized Obama for not doing enough. Ultimately, only 11 people were treated for Ebola in the United States, and just two people in the United States died, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Despite the numbers, then-Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said at the time that Obama wasn't "protecting our country and our families from Ebola," while then-Senate candidate Joni Ernst said Obama had exhibited "failed leadership" on Ebola.
Today, under Trump's leadership, more than 2.5 million people have been infected with the coronavirus, and more than 125,000 have died.
But rather than criticize Trump's response, Republicans are praising him.
"Generally, I feel [Trump’s] done a very good job," Ernst said in May. "He was right on it from day one prohibiting travel from certain countries and so forth. I think it was the right thing to do."
Saluting the troops
Senate Republicans in 2014 tried to take advantage of video that showed Obama saluting marines after getting off Marine One while holding a cup of coffee.
"Our Commander-in-Chief should take the time to properly salute our nation's heroes in uniform. They do it for him," a fundraising email from the National Senatorial Campaign Committee read at the time. "Unfortunately, his disregard is part of a larger pattern."
Trump, however, has disrespected members of the military on multiple occasions.
He even was briefed by American intelligence officials that Russian President Vladimir Putin put bounties on the heads of American troops in Afghanistan, but did not respond, according to multiple reports.
Trump claimed he was never briefed on the matter, nor acknowledged that it would be problematic had Putin incentivized the Taliban to murder American military members, though intelligence officials say otherwise.
Republicans have called for an investigation into the matter, but have yet to forcefully condemn Trump.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.