- Critics of President Donald Trump have questioned his work ethic since his election.
- Photos of the president, including of him playing golf and watching television, have bolstered their arguments.
- In contrast, photos of Barack Obama while he was president show him working out, preparing to give speeches, and taking meticulous notes.
- Below are some of the photos that have prompted questions about and comparisons of the work ethic of the two presidents.
Since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, critics have often called his work ethic into question.
There’s a photo of him posing in a truck while critics argued he should have been wrangling votes for the Republican healthcare bill.
During the government shutdown in January, the White House photographed him at his desk, which was conspicuously empty.
Then there are the 100 days and counting – nearly a quarter of his presidency – that he has spent at a golf course.
Every president draws comparisons to his predecessor. And for some people, there couldn’t be more of a contrast between Trump’s work ethic and that of former President Barack Obama.
While we can’t truly know what goes on behind closed doors, people have pointed to various photos of the two commanders in chief to draw conclusions about how they work, both in and out of the White House.
Below, we compiled some of the most famous photos that have prompted questions about and comparisons of the work ethic of Trump and Obama.
Some people thought this photo showed Trump’s misplaced priorities.
In March 2017, Trump posed for pictures in the cabin of a truck during a meeting on the White House lawn with members of the American Trucking Associations.
Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers were struggling to gain support for an early version of their healthcare bill, with a critical deadline just hours away.
Trump drew criticism for opting to pose in the truck rather than fight for the bill, and some said it demonstrated a lack of interest in securing the votes.
Photos of Trump riding a golf cart make it easy for critics to say he doesn’t exercise.
Trump’s exercise regimen – or lack thereof – has been fodder for critics since he entered the political spotlight.
He argued in January that he gets all the exercise he needs on the golf course.
But Trump is frequently photographed riding golf carts when he hits the links, making it easy to poke holes in that claim.
This photo didn’t make things any better.
- Twitter/Mike N Frank
Making matters worse, Trump was caught in June committing one of the cardinal sins of golf: driving his cart on the green.
Perhaps you get a pass when you own the course – the moment took place at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey, after all – but it nonetheless angered some golf fans and provided ammunition for critics who accused him of being lazy.
In contrast, Obama was frequently photographed exercising, often waking up before the sun rose.
- White House Photo
In contrast, Obama would wake up before 5 a.m. to exercise, according to his assistant Reggie Love.
Obama’s preferred sport was basketball, and he frequently played on the campaign trail and with White House aides and officials in Washington.
This White House photo during the government shutdown in January didn’t do Trump any favors.
- White House
In January, the federal government shut down on the anniversary of Trump’s inauguration.
The White House soon released photos purporting to show Trump working at his desk. But some questioned whether he was actually getting any work done, noting the president’s empty desk, stiff posture, and seemingly disinterested gaze.
Obama’s meticulous note taking was well-documented.
- Pete Souza
Critics of Trump often point to photos of Obama to contrast their work ethic.
One popular photo taken by the White House photographer Pete Souza shows Obama’s handwritten notes on a draft of a speech he gave in 2009 on healthcare.
For Trump, not so much.
- White House
Matt Fuller, a HuffPost reporter, compared Trump’s January desk photo with one taken a year earlier in which Trump is said to be writing his inaugural address.
“An emerging trend is that Trump and his staff have no idea how to stage photos to make it seem like he’s actually working,” Fuller tweeted.
Obama was photographed reviewing his remarks before an especially painful occasion.
- Pete Souza
Another photo by Souza shows Obama in a classroom at Newtown High School in Connecticut, reviewing remarks he would soon give at a memorial service for the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
This photo of Trump led people to believe he cared only about how he came off on TV.
- Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images
In February, photos circulated of Trump speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One next to a TV tuned to Fox News.
They gave more fodder to those who think the president is more concerned with how he’s perceived on television than working hard.
Obama was noted for his intense focus in a famous photo known as “Situation Room.”
Souza’s iconic photo shows Obama and other White House officials huddled in the Situation Room intently monitoring updates of the US Navy SEALs mission that led to the death of Osama bin Laden.
Trump was once caught watching TV when he was supposed to be in meetings.
- Twitter/Josh Billinson
In March 2017, the White House told reporters Trump would soon head to his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, for three meetings.
But during the time of the supposed meetings, Trump was photographed watching golf on TV in the clubhouse.
But there’s time for Trump to change the perception.
The president has cameras recording his every move – so regardless of what critics say about Trump’s work ethic, there is ample opportunity for him to prove them wrong.