The Obama-Boehner Golf Summit


With the debt ceiling limit vote looming, the president and the House Speaker take it to the links, then grab a beer

President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner teed off on Saturday, hitting the golf course together for the first time with more in play than just bragging rights.

(RELATED: Pictures from Saturday's Golf Outing)

With a fierce debate over the debt ceiling looming, Obama and Boehner, who teamed up to beat Vice President Joe Biden and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, no doubt came prepared for more than just 18 holes of golf at Andrews Air Force Base. And even if the president and speaker did not come to an agreement on the debt ceiling issue--not many expected that to happen on Saturday--the day was surely one of political preparation and building of personal rapport.

(RELATED: Golf Gives Insights Into Presidential Character)

On the course, in near-perfect weather conditions for golf, the president and speaker won the match on the 18th hole, according to a White House official. Details from the match were scant, but Obama and Boehner each won $2 and ended the day with cold drinks, a visit with service members on the clubhouse patio and U.S. Open coverage on the TV.

At the first hole, each shot par. Boehner hit a nice approach shot and hit a short putt. Obama crouched to line up his putt but missed the 12-foot shot then tapped in. Kasich missed a 30-foot putt but made par, and Biden bogeyed on the par-5 first hole. The group wrapped up before 3 p.m.

Boehner accepted the president's invitation to play golf as a political debate swirled over the budget and debt ceiling. The politics of the outing are this: The debt ceiling will be reached on Aug. 2, and if it is not raised, warn economists, including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, the economic implications for the U.S. will be dire. Republicans argue that to raise the ceiling without cutting the budget is irresponsible, and some in the GOP argue, on principle, against raising the limit at all. The president is on record in favor of raising the debt ceiling, but neither Obama nor Boehner has detailed his position yet.

(RELATED: Pictures--Presidents on the Golf Course)

The political implications of the debt ceiling debate are high: the president is entering a reelection campaign with high unemployment and low economic growth, in the 2.5-percent range, tough obstacles to overcome. The Republicans risk losing the momentum--and congressional seats--they picked up in 2010 if they withhold support for raising the debt ceiling and the U.S. credit rating tanks.

Earlier this year, Obama and Boehner reached an 11th-hour agreement on the 2011 budget to avoid a government shutdown, and the conventional wisdom is that the debate on the debt ceiling will go until the last minute as well. What remains unclear is how the president and speak will be able close the gap on their respective positions.

Back on the course, Obama and Boehner boarded the same cart after the first hole. Obama patted Boehner on the back before, and they rode to the next hole together.

Image credit: Pete Souza/The White House

Jump to comments
Presented by

Michael Catalini is an online editor at National Journal.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.

Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus


Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.


Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.


Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.


Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.


The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air



More in Politics

Just In