As Congress slips into recess and retreats to their home districts, the president is also preparing to depart for the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard with the first family for a ten day vacation.
Of course, conservatives will again attack Obama for being a lackadaisical leader who takes a vacation “every five minutes.” These criticisms coming from the right ignore that President Obama has taken fewer vacation days than his predecessor and other presidents before him.
Before President Obama left for a separate family vacation back in 2010, FoxNews host Bill O’Reilly invited Washington Times columnist and FoxNews contributor Monica Crowley on the show to give her input. “He’s actually shoehorning the job of the presidency into his busy schedule of going on vacation.” Crowley continued, “Is he ever working?”
O’Reilly actually called out Crowley for not criticizing President George W. Bush on the same issue. Crowley admitted that we all want a president to have down time to “clear his mind,” yet she came back and charged, “However, Obama is taking a vacation every five minutes. He’s blowing off steam almost every day.”
Crowley later claimed, “Bush took two vacations a year, in August and at Christmas time. That was it.”
Vacations have become a contentious partisan issue, with presidents of the opposite party always being criticized for taking too much time off. However, Monica Crowley is grievously wrong about President Bush’s vacation time and is vastly downplaying his getaways from the White House.
According to Mark Knoller of CBS News, who has been tracking presidents’ vacation time for two decades now, at a similar point in his presidency, George W. Bush had taken 399 days off compared to Obama’s 87.
CBS News reported in 2011, “To be fair, a presidential vacation away from the White House is not the same as a vacation for the average person. The president is still in contact with his advisers and on call for any emergency.”
The Washington Times also condemned the President’s elitist vacation. “The Government Accountability Institute calculates that Mr. Obama spends twice as much time at leisure than on policy briefings. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, considering the policies. Nevertheless, we’re paying a lot for a debt to pleasure.” The editorial continues, “Nobody begrudges a president a little time off, but we’re paying $2 million for a comfortable holiday on Cape Cod, the Massachusetts summer retreat of the wealthy elites.”
A separate Washington Times article criticizes the Obamas for closing a major roadway — a measure the Secret Service requires. For anyone who is familiar with Martha’s Vineyard, the Obamas are hardly the only family — or famous family — who take to the popular vacation spot in the summer months. Traffic and other disturbances are something the locals are used to this time of year, with or without the Obamas.
(Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer 3rd Class Connie Terrell via Flickr Commons)