President Trump has reportedly played golf 16 times since taking office—outpacing former President Obama, whose first documented golf outing happened near his 100-day mark. This week, we asked our Politics & Policy Daily readers: If you were president, what would be your preferred leisure activity, and why?
Howard Cohen answered:
Swimming. Unlike many other sports that are taxing on the muscles and bones (especially as we age), swimming is a relaxing, contemplative exercise that allows one to think while immersed under water. Stroke by stroke, lap by lap, it engenders a true cleansing of one’s mind of any and all clutter.
Tam McDonald, chose swimming, too:
I would restore the White House pool, although not for the “fiddling and faddling” that JFK made famous.
Swimming is not only a top aerobic exercise but necessitates a stress-busting breathing rhythm that inspires many of its adherents to characterize it as aquatic yoga. It is good not only for the musculature and respiratory systems but for enhanced cognition: clearer thinking, higher creativity, and enhanced capacity for circumspection.
Another reader, Erin Ham, put it this way: “No one can talk to you or call you in a pool. It would be a fantastic hour of silence with no technology every day.”
Christopher Round is an avid judo practitioner, which he describes as a “wrestling art that specializes in takedowns.” Round would continue to nurture his hobby in the White House:
I've done it most of my life and would probably ask to have mats put down at the White House. [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and I would have the same hobby—perhaps a meeting on the mat would take down his tough-guy image. (See what I did there?)
Todd Zartman sees volleyball as a good way for the president to blow off steam with friends and colleagues:
It is one of those leisure/sporting activities that gets everyone involved. It is social and involves teamwork. Young and old seem to enjoy it. Not a bad thing for someone in the White House to partake in, in my opinion.
In a similar vein, Stewart Verdery suggests President Trump and company hike the Appalachian Trail: “How about a bipartisan ‘Walk in the Woods’?”
Several readers suggested they would spend a lot of time gardening. Marjorie Spaeth had big plans for her leisure time as president, starting with the White House garden:
I would do something original with the White House garden that made a statement about climate change. I would also work with the kitchen staff to learn from them and have much more multi-ethnic culinary offerings at the White House. Healthy foods with a Latino bent would be my preference.
Then, with all this food and gardening, I should exercise, so I would swim—and sit in a jacuzzi and get acupuncture and massage.
Dirk Bloemendaal would play three specific strategy games to keep his brain active during his time off:
- Risk: To learn how geo-strategy works (and where Kamchatka is);
- Jenga: To learn that later moves are predicated upon earlier moves, and that failure can cause the entire structure to collapse; and
- Chess: To learn how to think more than one move ahead.
Several of you said you’d spend time with kids—both as an escape and a way to keep it all in perspective. Here’s one “avid sports enthusiast”:
I would play different sports with a different class of touring school children every Friday on the White House lawn. I believe that it would be a great experience for myself and our children to interact with the president and get some exercise too.
Finally, Steve Austin would find a way to make regular surprise visits to his supporters:
I’d sneak out of the White House with a minimum of people and drop in on schools or other places where the kind of people who elected me live or work. I might whisper in there on an MH-60 rigged for quiet operation. I’d catch teachers getting their rooms set up in the a.m., try to meet ’em all briefly, and leave before the press showed.