Friday, August 19, 2011

Vacation, All He Ever Wanted?

After a three-day "non-election-related" bus tour of the Midwest, President Obama and his family are headed to Martha's Vineyard for a 10-day vacation. This is a fairly typical time for the president to take a vacation since Congress is also not in session during the last few weeks of August.

During his speeches, Obama promised to unveil a new plan to restart the economy and create more jobs; however, it will not be introduced until September, because Congress is not there to debate or vote on whatever package he proffers. However, to many (especially with prompting from the right), it looks as though he chose to go on vacation instead of creating jobs. And Republicans are painting his choice of Martha's Vineyard as a vacation spot as the decision of an elitist who couldn't care less about the people in this country struggling to make ends meet.

Does President Obama "deserve" a vacation? Absolutely. There are few, if any, jobs with more stress and less downtime than President of the US. And it's not like he can take a "real" vacation—he will be briefed daily on what is going on in the world, and clearly will have access to all of the information and personnel he needs.

Is it the right time to take a vacation? Probably not. If you're trying to convey your empathy for those in need, traveling to a resort isn't quite the way to do that.

The fact is, however, Obama’s upcoming vacation is his ninth vacation since taking office. Obama has spent all or part of 38 days on vacation away from the White House. He has also made 14 visits to Camp David spanning all or part of 32 days, for a total of 70 days.

George W. Bush, at this point in his first term, had made 14 visits to his Texas ranch spanning all or part of 102 days. He also made 40 visits to Camp David spanning all or part of 123 days. His vacation total at this point in his presidency was all or part of 225 days away.

I don't know if the solution is skipping vacation or just getting a better spokesperson willing to be more aggressive with laying out the facts, but I do know one thing: there shouldn't be too many photo opportunities of the president frolicking with his family and friends. Regardless of his need for a vacation, there aren't a lot of people in this country frolicking right now.

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