So far, President Obama has taken 61 vacation days after 31 months in office. At this point in their presidencies, George W. Bush had spent 180 days at his ranch where his staff often joined him for meetings. And Ronald Reagan had taken 112 vacation days at his ranch.
Among recent presidents, Bill Clinton took the least time off — 28 days.
I won’t begrudge any president a little R&R – it’s a tough job. And even when they’re “off” they’re still on the job.
But there is such a thing as “optics” and being politically tone deaf. Hot Air:
Presidential vacations are always dicey, even though a President never really goes on an actual vacation; they just change locations. George Bush took plenty of flack for his annual August retreat to Crawford, Texas, where his ranch is located, even though Bush was just as on the job as in DC and Congress was out of session during the same periods. Obama’s taking flack for taking off even though Congress isn’t around to send him any bills, which is unfair — to a point.
The difference between the two is that Bush just went back to his rather rustic and relatively humble home in Crawford, which could never be mistaken for a hoity-toity retreat for the Upper 400. Instead of going home to Chicago, Obama will rub elbows with the wealthy in Martha’s Vineyard who use summer as a verb, and the optics even have Democrats complaining:
With 14 million Americans out of work, a volatile stock market and a historic downgrade of the country’s credit rating, President Obama is set to begin a 10-day retreat Thursday at a 28-acre Martha’s Vineyard compound called Blue Heron Farm, which costs an estimated $50,000 per week to rent. That divide — and the presumed hypocrisy of a president who has pledged not to rest “until every American looking for a job can find one,” going golfing and biking on an island playground for wealthy celebrities — has been too much for political pundits to resist.
Obama has taken heat the past twosummers for renting Blue Heron, but the difference this time is the intensity of his critics and the fact that they are on both sides of the political aisle. Republican strategist Mike Murphy told the Daily Beast that Obama is “acting like the rich guys he wants to raise taxes on,” while liberal columnist Colbert I. King wrote in The Washington Post that this is the wrong time “to dwell in splendid seclusion among the rich and famous.”
Yes, a respite at Martha’s Vineyard is Obama’s idea of “not resting,” which more or less undoes the common-man connection Obama wanted out of his rock-star bus tour. Why not go to the Gulf coast, as the Obamas urged last year, if they didn’t want to come to Chicago in the summer? Why not Camp David, as Colbert King suggested, which is a way for Presidents and their families to take a break outside of the public eye while still giving the impression of being on the job? Camp David wouldn’t have cost the taxpayers millions in additional security:
Obama has paid his family’s share of the property’s rental cost each summer. But as is the case each time the president travels on official duties, taxpayers are on the hook for the millions of dollars it could cost for the Secret Service to secure the island, as well as for the transportation and housing of dozens of White House staff.
It seems that no one at the White House knows how to handle optics. This August will be a festival of failure on that score.
First of all, neither Reagan nor George the Lesser were exactly famous for their “hands-on” management style. Secondly, they went to their private ranches, not to expensive resorts or billionaire hang-outs. Last of all, they were REPUBLICANS, the party of the rich and shameless.
Democrats are supposed to represent the little peeple, the ones with blue and pink collars who toil and sweat for an hourly wage. So when the nation’s top Democrat is partying like a rock star it doesn’t look so good.
Imagine the positive optics if Obama announced he was taking a “stay-cation” this year to work on unemployment. He would work (or not work) just as hard while living in luxury in the White House and he could still sneak off for a few golf games and weekends with the family at Camp David. But if he did that then he couldn’t hob nob with his financial backers. It’s all about the benjamins.
But even worse is Obama’s annoying habit of making a big deal about how hard he is working just before he takes off on another vacation.
Remember the Gulf oil spill?
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