Did Ronald Reagan Actually Go Golfing The Day After The Beirut Bombing In 1983?

A couple of heavily circulated memes from the page “Occupy Democrats” as well as the page’s owner, Omar Rivero, claim that President Ronald Reagan went golfing after he had been made aware of the Beirut barracks bombing which occurred early on the morning of October 23rd, 1983. Mr. Rivero is currently a candidate for the Florida House of Representatives in District 118, which is in the Miami suburbs.

On his page, he posted the following statement:

How dare Republicans criticize Pres. Obama for playing a little golf when “St. Ronnie” did the same thing while he sent 241 of our brave soldiers to die in Beirut?

It’s truly unconscionable. (Source)


Side by side comparisons of screenshots taken from Occupy Democrats and Omar Rivero’s campaign page. “False” captions added by the author of this article.

At first glance, this sounds like a great response to the conservative bashing of President Obama who likes to go golfing, as have numerous other presidents in the past. According to the golf magazine Links, 15 of the past 18 presidents have played golf, but not all of them were necessarily good at it.

Horse racing may be the sport of kings, but golf is the pastime of Presidents. Fifteen of the last 18 Commanders-in-Chief have played to varying degrees, from Dwight D. Eisenhower’s zeal to Ronald Reagan’s yearly outing. (Herbert Hoover, Harry S. Truman and Jimmy Carter didn’t partake.)

President Barack Obama is part of the majority. He has a decent swing (albeit with a pronounced chicken-wing follow-through), but lags far behind fellow Punahou School alumni Parker McLachlin and Michelle Wie, not to mention several other Presidents who pursued the game in office. (Source)

Out of all the presidents, Links rated John F. Kennedy as the best golfer, despite his bad back and Addison’s Disease. Dwight D. Eisenhower played more than 800 rounds while in office, with a quarter being at the same famous Augusta National club where the image of Reagan golfing was taken on August 22nd, 1983. Ronald Reagan was considered a mediocre golfer at best and did not play very often.

Huffington Post also ran an article based off one from The Daily Banter claiming that President Reagan was still on vacation during the Beirut bombing:

President Reagan was still on vacation at the GOLF! resort the next day when the Marine barracks in Beirut were bombed, killing 241 Marines.

Since the attack happened at 11:22 pm EST which is 7 hours ahead of Beirut, yes, President Reagan was still on vacation when it happened. As he noted in his presidential diary, he was awakened around 0230 EST to the news of the bombing and immediately met with the Secretary of State, George Shultz and his Chief of Staff, James Baker. They left for the airport at 0630 EST and arrived back at the White House around 0830 EST.

Earlier in September, President Reagan came under fire for remaining on vacation when a South Korean airliner was shot down by the Soviet Union. Only after realizing that staying at his ranch and going horseback riding looked bad, did he return to the White House.

In 1983, when a South Korean jumbo jet was shot down by a Soviet fighter, President Reagan was on holiday in California.

Initially, his staff said he would not curtail his vacation despite the international furore that followed the incident. Mr Reagan had “every facility, every capacity, every capability” to handle the matter in Santa Barbara, his spokesman, Larry Speakes, said.

But soon television networks were screening film of Mr Reagan horse-riding in cowboy gear as the relatives of the passengers grieved. Mr Reagan returned to the White House. (Source)

Again, there are two inaccuracies with this meme. First, Occupy Democrats thanks the Facebook page Being Liberal for the image, something page owners often do as a common courtesy when they use a meme from another page. However, there was no image of this kind on Being Liberal’s page at the time I took these screenshots and added “False” to both of them.

Second, President Reagan played golf at Augusta National on October 22nd – not October 23rd, or October 24th. There was an armed hostage situation there on the 22nd with a man demanding to talk to Reagan, who was on the 16th fairway at the time. This was reported by the New York Times.

The bombing happened at 06:22 Beirut time on the morning of October 23rd and President Reagan was woken up around 2:30 AM. So unless President Reagan immediately headed straight to the golf course and played in the dark, there is no way that he could have played golf – especially in broad daylight as shown in the image with political text added.

The image without the added text originally appears on the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum‘s page with the caption “President Reagan playing golf at the Augusta National Golf Club. 10/22/83.”

Therefore, this meme gets a double false rating. One for the attributed source of the meme, and the second false for being 100% inaccurate. We’ve also reached out to our friends at Politifact for their rating and will update when they respond.

In an extremely important election year, we here at Forward Progressives still subscribe to the belief that the truth matters. If we can’t expect “our side” to tell the truth – and call them out on it when they don’t – then we’re nothing more than hypocrites for complaining about lies coming from the “other side.”

9:48 PM PDT 8/26/2014

It seems after this article went live, Mr. Rivero deleted the meme from his campaign page and from the Occupy Democrats page. No public retraction of the false information has been posted on either page, although the meme had been shared over 5,000 times as of the time this article was published. If a public retraction is posted, this article will be updated to reflect that.


Facebook comments

  • Nemisis

    This is as it should be, the truth….The gop does enough of it’s own bs to get called out on. I usually go with, “So what? This means he is not crashing the economy or shipping guns to contra rebels. ” when addressing the “Golfer in Chief” argument.

    Small point: The US EST time is behind, not ahead of time in Beirut.
    (Earth rotates Eastward)
    The bombing occurred at 06:22 23 Oct. It is unclear if that is GMT time or Lebanon local. Assuming Lebanon local time which is +3 to GMT, and the US EST is -5 from GMT. (Augusta is in GA so that makes it US EST)
    That is a combined time of -7 hours.
    Making the time of the bombing at 23:22 (11:22 pm) 22 Oct (US EST) .
    Given that twitter was not as heavily used in 1983, a 3 hour lag from the occurrence of the event to presidential wake up is about as close to immediate as can be expected.

    If you want to use this event against Reagan, try using the warnings from military advisers that the placement of the barracks was asinine and vulnerable to attack and difficult to defend given the mission of the troops stationed there was one of “humanitarian” and not of a “combat” nature.
    Given that the US embassy there had been bombed in April, this threat assessment should have been given more attention.
    Especially since 63 Americans at the embassy were killed.

    • Jim Bean

      Its important to muddy the water anytime a liberal takes another one to task because, as you say, truth is the most important component, I suppose.

      • Nemisis

        I’m not sure what your point here is.
        My comment was restricted to the topic.

        Reagan was on a golf outing, the event happened, he went back to work.
        I don’t have a problem with that. I do have a problem with the fact that he was warned it would happen and he and congress took no steps to mitigate the obvious danger.

        What I said was “The gop does enough of it’s own bs to get called out on.” .
        So rather than makeup a ridiculous statement about a golf outing that is factually inaccurate. Why not use the real facts surrounding the event.
        The facts are even more damning than what was fabricated.

        The article by Clifton does a superb job of reaming the offending “Liberal” author.

        However, I guess under the circumstances because one “liberal” makes a false claim ALL arguments ever made against Bullshit Mountain are nullified even when they are factual and on topic. Because those facts just muddy the waters.

        For the record Bullshit Mountain was discovered by Jon Stewart.

      • Stephen Barlow

        AND he mines it for both gold and silver on a Daily Show basis!!!

        Three cheers for JS, King of Bullshit Mountain!

    • Stephen Barlow

      What I find even more reprehensible of Reagan is his foolish use of Marines to invade Granada for no genuine purpose OTHER THAN a smokescreen to take America’s eyes of the needless and preventable loss of Marines in Lebanon.

      • Nemisis

        I dunno, Grenada was a different situation. There were joint assaults by all armed forces and a coalition of forces with Jamaica and something called Regional Security Systems.
        I can only assume that is a private security force…Probably Spectre in nature..

        Anyway, Grenada has a holiday celebrating the invasion called Thanksgiving Day. I’m pretty sure that the military that ran Grenada for the 4 years prior was a bit irked. Like Canada and the U.K. However they should have expected that since they took power by killing the previous leader and telling everyone “we have the guns, so you do what we say.” That would get anyone’s ire up. So they called on the Gipper .
        There was also one or two hot blonds being held.
        I understand they were supposed to be nursing students. Clint Eastwood even made a movie about it…very realistic.
        A divorced Gunnery Sargent Drill instructor drinks away his sorrows while the ex-wife, who left because he is military, is bar-tending at the same flat-top/jar head bar. Also, she is getting slicked down by the bar owner. Which makes the DI down right grumpy.
        So to elevate the mood a street weasel slides in with pierced ears , a guitar and by a quirk of scripting ends up being trained by Gunny Grump. They don’t like GG so they convince a giant Swiss Miss to get his ass kicked by the Man With No Name a.k.a Gunnery Sarge Harry Callahan.
        So they have a party and get the call of duty and ex-wife tells Harry not go, but it’s his job and blah blah blah.
        Fast forward to the disembarkation of the combat team and we hear Callahan tell a supply major to go take a flying leap at a donut, and then tells a general that it’s a cluster fuck. The general agrees and makes Blondi the circus leader.
        They whole “Our Gang” gets to Grenada, but have to fight an uphill battle to take a light house, because heavy houses are heavy and awkward. Lift with your back. They wind up taking the light house which leads to the down fall of the military coup that lasted 4 years. Oh, yeah but only after they made a call to the DOD for air support using a land line and one of the many credit cards that Johnny Rockstar happened to have on him. That is how a flock of hueys came to their rescue. I’m thinking if they had had just a few dollars more they could have bought more ammunition.

        That should serve as a warning to microscopic island nations. Don’t piss off a huge continental nation with rich daddies who have students that happen to attend a “medical” university on your wee speck of sand.

      • Stephen Barlow

        GReat movie, and fairly accurate as Eastwood movies go. My understanding is that Castro put Pro Russian Cuban troops on the island.. and maybe a call from ol Gypper saying ,”If you want some help after all this time, I need the PR, so if you let us put camera crews in place t make me look like less of a fool about Beirut, I’d LOVE TO PUNT MORE MARINES AT RISK AND IN THEIR GRAVES to finally help you after 1400 days…”

        Something like that. I was busy keeping the Czech Republick on their side of the fence with Germany. Ever read Catch-22 or see the fabulous movie?
        I was in a bridge building Engineers unit whose mission should the Czech invasion actually happen, was to hold and rebuild the airfield as necessary so civilians could be evacuated 1 hour from the border.

        They NEVER ONCE trained us to use and makes repairs with the preformed metal runway panels we didn’t have the equipment to do it with. We had Vietnam era 5 tons and bulldozers with bullet holes in them… and a FLEET of brand new vehicles with less than 100 miles on it loaded and ready to go on the back lot. We started them monthly and drove them 10 miles or so in a convoy and never once took the airfield repair parts off the trucks!!

        Wanna know what’s was even funnier? Out of 167 men, 88 were Reservists who were given a courts martial for AWOL on one weekend a month duty. They all got 20 months active duty. 40 odd guys got jail or Army for felonies as civilians. so their were about 35-40 of us who WANTED to be soldiers and we were out numbered 3-1 by guys who never really wanted to wear a uniform and couldn’t follow an order to wipe their asses after they sh*t!!!

        HEHEHE And @ $750+ billion a year… we DESERVE better for our taxdollars!

      • Nemisis

        I drilled holes in the ocean and kept the godless red horde from dropping nukes on our heads. Subs are all volunteer, so everyone wanted to be there (mostly) I got to sea the world….from a periscope.
        It was fun. I would do it again in a heartbeat. But just to be clear only for a few weeks at time last time I spent 3 months at a time under.

        Thanks for your service….

  • Stephen Barlow

    This is kind of a nonsensical crapola point, made only because REDpublicans are not busy legislating in jobs programs they promised, or healthcare reforms to replace Romneycare II, or not voting on Veteran’s Bills, Highway Bills or Banking Regulation Bills.

    in otherwords, they come up with crap like this golf BS BECAUSE they have nothing else to do.

    The reality is that our Half White President is no further than 30 seconds contact with the Joint Chiefs, the Speaker of the House, Secretary of State, Netanyahu or Putin if need be. He can securely video conference at any moment of any day from anywhere in the world including the North Pole and the top of Mt Everest.

    But unlike Bush, who never answered his phone @ 3AM or Reagan who had to use land lines, Obama has the technical ability to have his information delivered to him in full HD color within 10 seconds from any point on the globe to any other point on the globe.

    But the the best reality is that he doesn’t have to deal with Reagan’s dementia nor Bush’s innate stupidity. LMAO

    • Brad Jenks

      Liar….quoting you “are not busy legislating in jobs programs they promised, or healthcare reforms to replace Romneycare II, or not voting on Veteran’s Bills, Highway Bills or Banking Regulation Bills.”

      Yet hundreds of bills sit collecting dust on Democrat Senate leader’s desk where HE refused them a debate, vote, or being amended….

      Like I said …. “LIAR”

      LMAO…. at YOU….

      • Stephen Barlow

        42 on Reid’s desk.
        932 Boehner boners

      • Stephen Barlow

        A FILIBUSTERED d bate?

  • BigRay

    Wow! Kudos for telling the truth! BOTH sides need to be honest if we are ever to have open and honest debates on things. If we stop demonizing and smearing one another and allow folks to have honest dialogue, we may find we are not so far apart on all issues. For the record I consider myself Right of center and find myself calling out those in my camp for spreading false narratives as well.

    • Stephen Barlow

      AMEN to that! If I am wrong, I can admit it. But few of the enemy (LOL) Eviljellyhead Konservative Khristian Konspiracy (KKK) nutjobs will EVER let go of their delusions. Talk about 47% of the country Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest…!!! And the Libertards who think a few big hippie daisy bathtub decals will make the world OK again are even worse than scary.

      I remember smoking a few joints, thinking I would get My girlfriend back from the biker dude. All it got Me was her really hot sister on a Silver Haze platter. Which was a seriously hot upgrade because if you make a woman orgasm for the first time… The girlfriends the biker took came at the snick of a zipper and liked being 20 guys ten minute in it grinner.

      So only intelligent discourse with people who will listen and be glad YOU are listening with the intent to MAKE A DEAL can solve America’s problems. Achim’s Razor from BOTH sides. Simple questions, simple answers… like the Nextel commercials with the construction worker’s.

      TAX REFORM. “Who makes the most money?” Businesses and Corporations, 47% of which pay less than 12 % after bending the majority (workers) over a fender and … Business makes 70% of GDP. THEY call it “consumer spending” So why doesn’t BUSINESS pay 2/3 of the revenue?

      An AMT (alternative minimum tax) for [email protected] 12.5%. NO one gets away with getting a $600 million dollar refund from working people when they gross $40 BILLION a year. (GE) $12.5 % of $40 Billion is $5 Billion. That will hardly break any stockholder.

      THERE is an idea to discuss options about. Any takers?

    • Stephen Barlow

      Thanks for knowing your enemy may be standing beside you @ the ballot box.

    • The Plumber

      Stop with the logic! How do you expect America to heal itself and move forward if we are not divided?!

  • Jennifer Elisabeth

    Omar is a wonderful guy. I find it hard to believe he would post anything that wasn’t true.

    • The Plumber

      He’s a…what’s that word? Oh, right, POLITICIAN! He may be a wonderful guy, but his job is to lie. So…yeah.

    • Rudy Castro

      Republicans though, keep pushing LIES after LIES. In Benghazi there was a stand down order and that delusion is NOT going away unless we perform thousands of lobotomies on the psychos.

  • Cappy Walls

    I think Manny Schewitz is a bit confused here. The time in Beirut is Greenwich +2, or 7 hours AHEAD of EST. All he has to do is Google it. And according to what I could find, the event occurred October 23rd at 6:22am local time, making it 11:22pm East Coast time the day before or October 22nd.. Did Reagan go out and play golf on October 23rd?? Even after learning of the bombing? You tell me – –