As President Barack Obama stares out from the tee box on Saturday morning, several things are likely to run through his mind.
Relax...Keep your head down...Nice, easy swing...Don't let Boehner win.
Assuming he can accomplish the first three, what to do about the fourth...
The White House won't say much about the highly anticipated golf match-up this weekend between the president and Speaker of the House John Boehner. How the game is played on Saturday and, perhaps more importantly, how it's characterized later may say a great deal about the spending debate that lies ahead.
We know that Vice President Joe Biden and Repblican Ohio Governor John Kasich will round out the bipartisan foursome, and all are said to take the game seriously with varying degrees of success. Golf Digest ranked 150 of the politically powerful golfers in Washington and that's where the disparities emerge.
Mr. Obama, at 108, isn't particularly good, but for a recent convert to the game, he's not terrible either. He manages to squeeze in a round most weekends, his motorcade snarling traffic on his way to courses at either Andrews Air Force Base or Fort Belvoir.
Boehner, though, must be smacking his lips. He approaches the game with a religious fervor, and while his swing is said to be painfully awkward it serves him well, earning him a ranking of 43. Boehner even slyly suggested spotting the president strokes at a steep price: a trillion dollars apiece in deficit reduction. Biden, though, is thought to be even better. Golf Digest puts him at 29. If, as expected, Obama/Biden take on Boehner/Kasich, team GOP should have the edge.
But the White House could consider something different, pairing Obama and Boehner in some variant of team play like best ball or a scramble. The latter option may be the most politically attractive for the administration. In a scramble, both the president and the speaker hit a ball and then play the better lie, shot after shot through the entire round.
They would have to work together to determine whose shot is better, forcing them to forge dozens of small bipartisan agreements along the way. It also carries the added advantage of plausible deniability. Since there can't be individual scorecards in a scramble, all four can say they really don't know who among them played the best round.
It might just go a long way to preserving the presidential ego. If Mr. Obama doesn't team up, the only eagle he's likely to see on Saturday is the one on his limousine door on the way home.