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Privacy and Politics: The President Deserves Some Non-Transparency Time

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It was President's Days Weekend and many Americans took advantage of the three day holiday to take a mini-vacation, recharge their batteries, and relax.

So did President Obama, who headed south without his wife and girls (who were on a ski vacation themselves) to the very ritzy Floridian Golf Club near West Palm Beach to relax, take some golf lessons from renowned master teacher Butch Harmon-and to play a round with Tiger Woods too.

But there was something different about this vacation. This trip, the president kept in total seclusion from the withering scrutiny of the press-and the loud protests that followed from reporters became news itself.

Anyone who works as hard as the president deserves to take time off from the job to gain some solitude and relaxation.

But anytime this president takes time off, he gets called out for not staying in Washington to work on our nation's ills.

As usual, this round of golf was met with the same criticism he endures every time he hits the links-that he has played too much golf while he has been president. He's shot over a 100 rounds during his first term in office, but that's not even close to 1200 rounds played by President Woodrow Wilson and the over 800 rounds played by President Eisenhower while they occupied the White House.

This trip, there was also condemnation that the president was a hypocrite for golfing at a resort patronized by some of American's most affluent people. To play and partake of the amenities there, it costs its members $50,000 to join the club, plus annual dues of $15,000. Obama, who ran on the platform of increasing taxes on the richest Americans, was called an "elitist" and "hypocrite" by Tea Party pundits for staying at the resort.

And there were questions about the president (and Congress too) taking time off as negotiations stalled to avoid a sequestration that threatens major defense cuts and shutdown of major government programs that is due to take place on March 1st. And after all, he just had a vacation in Hawaii.

But the president was really called on the carpet this trip in terms of transparency. The White House Press Corps were told to stay away and altogether leave Obama alone during the trip. Fox correspondent and White House Correspondents Association president Ed Henry screamed foul, expressing Corps' "extreme frustration" about having no access to the president.

While most point to the lack of civil discourse and compromise as one of the major problems facing both Washington and politics in general, the Press Corps' beef with the president going into seclusion pointed to another big problem in our Realty TV politics today-that our politicians are not afforded anytime off from their jobs or any chance of seclusion that allows them quiet introspection and thought.

The best part of playing golf to most hackers, including the president, is getting away for a few hours from the world to drive, hit and putt a small, dimpled ball accurately, partake in the fresh air, beer and camaraderie. Having a bunch of reporters and cameras following the president around on the course would have destroyed all that.

And golfing is a great way to get business down away from the office too. If golfing and some time off help the president stayed focused, then fine. One suggestion: instead of Tiger, the president should sneak away from Washington and play a round or two soon with John Boehner and maybe Eric Cantor too, and work on both his golf game and getting this country moving again.

Steven Kurlander is an attorney and communications strategist and writes a weekly column in the Sun Sentinel and Florida Voices. He can be emailed at