Minutes after warning that the budget impasse was creating a “critical moment for this country,” President Clinton exchanged his suit and tie for casual attire and went golfing.
A reporter asked press secretary Mike McCurry if the outing sent a consistent message.
“The president is doing exactly what he ought to do on a federal holiday,” McCurry said. “There’s nothing for the president to do at this point.”
While Clinton spent the sunny Veterans Day holiday afternoon at the Army-Navy Country Club in Arlington, Va., the House passed and sent to the White House a bill to let the government borrow money through Dec. 12.
Now it was the Republicans’ turn.
Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and House Speaker Newt Gingrich showed up at a press conference holding golf clubs.
“This is sort of a tale with several props,” said Gingrich, brandishing a club in one hand, paper in the other.
“This, of course, is a golf club. This is the president’s two-page press conference before going off to play golf. This is a real bill which exceeds the debt ceiling. This is a real bill which keeps the United States government open.”
Then Gingrich bore in:
“One of the major problems in America is that we have a president who doesn’t mind playing, who doesn’t mind talking, but he seems to hate working. We’re working.
“This is real work, this is hard, it isn’t just teeing off and then having a nice 19th hole with your friends.”
McCurry had the last word.
“We’re still waiting for Congress to take action,” he said. “There is nothing here to act on.”
Reporters pressed him to explain why the president should be projecting such a laid-back image.
“I think you guys ought to remember it’s a federal holiday,” McCurry said. “Go home.”