A first! President Obama actually golfs with a woman!
Another crack in the gender glass ceiling. And just nine months into his first term.
Despite the H1N1 swine flu national emergency he declared Saturday, President Barack Obama went golfing Sunday. And for the first time in the White House, he took a female along on his golf outing. She's Melody Barnes, his chief domestic policy adviser.
Because of Obama's sensitivity to privacy and his athletic skills off the basketball floor (think bumbling bowling in Pennsylvania), there will be no video or photos of the coed sports outing on the course at Washington's Fort Belvoir this afternoon.
But the tireless Lynn Sweet, today's print pool reporter from the Chicago Sun-Times who knows the competitive president well from his Illinois days, confirmed the golfing firstness.
At first she was told by a White House aide that Barnes was not the first female to swing a golf club with the rookie president.
When Sweet asked for the names of the others, the aide corrected himself and confirmed Barnes was the first, though he said Obama had golfed with unidentified women during the campaign.
The sensitivity in the Democrat White House arises from growing grumbling about recent evening basketball contests there with congressmen that were literally with congressmen. No females allowed. And then there was the all-male beer summit.
Golfing like this has historically been a guy thing. In business too. The import of the absence of women is not so much the guys' worry that they'll get thumped by a woman in front of others (although come to think of it.....)
It's the bonding that goes on through the shared competition and stories, some of them suitable for mixed company. And the lead in familiarity that shared social experience gives guys when promotion times come around.
-- Andrew Malcolm
Photo: Associated Press (Barnes with Obama). Jewel Samad / AFP / Getty Images (Barnes enroute to the golf course).