In “Meet the Press” Interview, President Obama Admits Golfing Amid Crisis Was a Mistake

President Obama sits in a golf cart on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Mass., on Aug. 20, the same day he condemned the beheading of American journalist James Foley by the Islamic State militant group. (Photo: Steven Senne, AP)
President Obama sits in a golf cart on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., on Aug. 20, the same day he condemned the beheading of American journalist James Foley by the Islamic State militant group. (Photo: Steven Senne, AP)

President Obama admitted in an interview airing Sunday that it was a mistake to go golfing on Martha’s Vineyard immediately after condemning the beheading of American journalist James Foley last month.

He also told Meet the Press that he will go to Congress and the nation this week with a strategy to defeat the Islamic State militants, whom he accused of “savagery” in the killing of thousands of innocent people in Iraq and Syria, including two American journalists.

“There’s no doubt that — after having talked to the families, where it was hard for me to hold back tears listening to the pain that they were going through, after the statement that I made, that you know, I should’ve anticipated the optics” in going golfing, he said. “You know, that’s part of the job.”

“But part of this job is also the theater of it,” he said. “It’s not something that always comes naturally to me. But it matters. And I’m mindful of that,” Obama said.

It was perhaps the most revealing moment of a half-hour interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, and it came in the last question from the show’s new moderator, Chuck Todd. The show was taped Saturday and aired Sunday morning.

Discussion of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria dominated the interview, which also covers the Ebola virus, immigration and the congressional elections in November.

Obama said he will brief congressional leaders about his strategy for confronting the extremists on Tuesday, and give an address to the nation Wednesday.

“This is not going to be an announcement about U.S. ground troops. This is not the equivalent of the Iraq war,” he said. “What this is is similar to the kinds of counter-terrorism campaigns that we’ve been engaging in consistently over the last five, six, seven years.”

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SOURCE: USA Today – Gregory Korte