So, the president is taking a vacation.
What's the big deal?
I've heard radio analysts and columnists going crazy because President Obama and his family are on vacation in Martha's Vineyard.
"With the economy in a mess, and the world in a mess, the President needs to be back in Washington, on top of these issues," they shriek.
Ummm, Martha's Vineyard isn't exactly the Sahara Desert. They can find him if they need him.
And, judging from the eight-vehicle motorcade that accompanied the president and his daughters to the bookstore the other day, I think he brings most of the executive branch with him when he travels.
As evidenced by the debt ceiling debacle, I believe it's pretty obvious the president alone can't accomplish much. I think he would have been happy to take care of the issue in his own way in days, not weeks, had he been able to act on his own. The House and Senate are on the traditional August break, doing whatever it is legislators do on vacation - perhaps taking a class in "winning friends and influencing people."
Or studying some relaxing zen yoga.
In scouring my memory I seem to recall just about every president taking flak for the time they spend away from Washington.
George Washington was the first president to hit the road. In 1793, he spent the entire month of November in Germantown to escape a yellow fever epidemic. Aaron Burr took advantage of the situation by making the first presidential vacation dig at the chief executive.
Truly the "people's president," Andrew Jackson invited citizens to accompany him on "The People's Vacation," which reads like an earlier (much earlier) version of Woodstock. Tens of thousands traveled to Niagara Falls. Looting, burning, fights and, oh yes, plenty of booze, nearly brought about a war with Britain in 1830 when the revelry spilled over the nation's border into Canada.
Didn't Teddy Roosevelt spend his ENTIRE second term, from 1905 to 1909 on safari in Africa? This probably led to a very smooth relationship between the executive branch and the legislative branch of government.
In 2001, George W. Bush took the month of August off. In fact, Bush had taken 180 days off at this point in his presidency as compared to Obama's 61.
I think presidents deserve to take a break whenever they can. I'm convinced that a year in the White House is like seven in the "real world." It seems to be the most aging job on earth. I'm shocked in reviewing photos of Obama from his campaign with photos today. He used to look younger than his actual age. Today he looks older. The same phenomenon held true for most of his successors as well
I can't imagine how relaxing these modern presidential vacations can be. The White House pretty much travels with you. The press follows you. The natives are kept a safe distance from you.
The bookstore trip the other day was dutifully reported in the nation's media. The president apparently enjoys fiction, with titles and authors reported. I suppose if the guy wants a copy of Sports Illustrated he has to have a flunky buy it and transfer it to him in a plain brown wrapper.
With the scrutiny presidents face on their vacations, I wouldn't blame them if they skipped the trip altogether.