Republicans were quick to pounce on Obama’s water-intensive golf weekend. “We have seen this brand of hypocrisy from President Obama before — this time it seems his soap box doubles as a tee box.”

What does "His soap box doubles as a tee box" mean?


The first paragraph gives an insight about this.

President Barack Obama traveled to California on Friday to highlight the state’s drought emergency at two events near Fresno, calling for shared sacrifice to help manage the state’s worst water shortage in decades. He then spent the rest of the weekend enjoying the hospitality of some of the state’s top water hogs: desert golf courses.

It's probably a tongue-in-cheek comment by RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski. Check out the meaning of the words used here:

soapbox (without space) - A platform raised above the surrounding level to give prominence to the person on it.

tee box - Starting point where a golfer puts a ball into play for a hole.

In this context, it means that the president simply did both - political work by addressing the 'water shortage issue' but (then) also playing golf on the ground that requires 'too much water' to maintain.

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  • What about President Obama’s brand of hypocrisy seen before and ‘this time it seems his soap box doubles as a tee box’? Could you please explain me? – Lucian Sava Feb 20 '14 at 12:10
  • @LucianSava macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/double-as. Hope this clarifies. – Maulik V Feb 20 '14 at 12:17
  • @LucianSava About Obama's brand of hypocrisy, that I leave to the reader and the journalists interpretation. Obviously, the journalist not only thinks Obama is a hypocrite but even that he has his own kind ("brand") of hypocrisy. If you want to know more about that, I refer to the appropriate (news) sources. – oerkelens Feb 20 '14 at 12:20
  • @MaulikV: Wiktionary lists "soap box" as an alternative spelling for "soapbox", so I assume they are both acceptable :) – oerkelens Feb 20 '14 at 12:22
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    @MaulikV, Your last revision is exactly the way I thought it to be! Congratulations! – Lucian Sava Feb 21 '14 at 6:22

Soap box is an idiom that indicates a box someone stands on when speaking in public, usually trying to convince people about something.

A tee box is the area on a golf course from where the players "tee off", they start to play from there.

"To double as" means to have two functions at the same time.

So this is a word play on Obama combining political publicity work with the pleasures of playing golf.

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  • Couldn’t ‘to double’ also mean to make twice as great? Especially in this context? – Lucian Sava Feb 20 '14 at 12:12
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    @LucianSava Yes, in a different context it can mean that. But here the used idiom is X doubles as Y, not X doubles Y. – oerkelens Feb 20 '14 at 12:15
  • @oerkelens exactly! macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/double-as – Maulik V Feb 20 '14 at 12:18
  • @LucianSave Especially in the quoted context, "make twice as big" makes no sense at all. How would a soapbox make a part of a golf course twice as big, and how would that ever be relevant when discussing president Obama's politics? – oerkelens Feb 20 '14 at 12:18
  • @oerkelens It could have been great fun if the editor had used the word golf tee! There we compare the highness of both the things the tee and the soapbox! ;) – Maulik V Feb 20 '14 at 12:19

To put a slightly finer point on the phrase in general, it implies that when you play golf with this particular person you are going to have to endure them preaching to you or stumping for their position. (Had to slip another idiom in there for you :)

A lot of guys I've played with go up onto the tee box and then begin to yap away while everyone else waits for them to hit. If someone said this phrase to me about someone else, I would be sure not to play golf with them. It can be very annoying.

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