Home > Culture, Politics > The Silly Practice of Attacking Presidential Vacations

The Silly Practice of Attacking Presidential Vacations


All partisans do it and, frankly, it’s getting old and predictable and if you think about it, makes no sense whatsoever. Note to those whose favorite politicians are not occupying the White House at any given time: the President does not need to actually be at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to conduct business.

From the screen shot of the Drudge Report website today you can see the “outrage” of it all.

“Unemployment up to 7.8%” screams the headline. Actually joblessness is unchanged at 7.8% from the previous month, so saying it’s “up to” is not accurate, but I digress. There’s no particular news today about the debt, but coupling it with the unemployment report creates a handy feeling of economic panic- which- as you can plainly see- is not being addressed by our lazy, loafing President who is eating sno-cones, body surfing and golfing in HAWAII, of all places (so what if he grew up there, it’s HAWAII, dammit).

Back in the George W. Bush days, Democrats were equally apoplectic about W’s vacation time. In July of 2002, then Maryland Governor, Paris Glendening, who was Chairman of the Democratic Governor’s Association, lambasted President Bush for planning to spend his summer vacation in Texas “while the stock market was plunging and foreign affairs were volatile.” Just out of curiosity, has there ever been a time foreign affairs were not volatile? The President should only go on vacation when the Dow Jones Industrial Average is on the upswing?

And Bush really caught it when one of his summer vacations was interrupted by Hurricane Katrina. Presidents, apparently, are caped crusaders who can magically fly to natural catastrophes and wave a magic wand and make bad things go away. The problem with Katrina was not that Bush was on vacation, it was that there was a pitiful federal response by people who had been hired long before Bush ever planned his vacation. His political mistake was having his picture taken aboard Air Force One looking down over New Orleans instead of having landed a chopper there and gotten himself on the evening news that night.

And Bill Clinton took hits for where he vacationed. Camp David was not good enough, barked the critics. He’s off in Martha’s Vineyard– at some guy’s house that he’s renting. A house whose property, by the way, “is complete with jogging trails, tennis courts, swimming and boating.” Oh, the humanity.

At the turn of the previous century, Theodore Roosevelt scandalized the nation by taking a vacation at his Oyster Bay home “so soon” after he took office after the assassination of President McKinley.

Harry Truman had the smartest approach. He made the press his vacation accomplices. He was one of the first to take reporters and aides with him on vacations, often leaving wife and daughter behind, presumably because those reporters and aides were willing and able poker players.

Here’s the thing about being President of the Unites States- especially in the modern era. No matter where they go, Presidents are plugged in. There are aides with them. The “football” is in close proximity at all times (the brief case carried by a military officer that contains the nuclear codes). I don’t doubt they can get live video feeds of a drone strike in Pakistan if necessary and they certainly can talk to anyone in the planet they choose to converse with.

But the silliest thing is the implication of all the criticisms of vacationing American Presidents; that our leaders should stay at their house/office in northwest Washington, D.C., with their nose to the grind stone sorting, fixing, repairing whatever the given crisis of the day is. Since there is always a crisis somewhere on the planet, they should never get time off at all. In fact, they should not even sleep lest they get this disturbing headline:

“President Naps with World in Crisis.”

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