The non-issue of Presidential vacations

I’ve given up the habit of watching network television, so I nearly missed the controversy about President Obama taking a vacation on Martha’s Vineyard.  This item by CBS News set the record straight.

click to view

CBS Radio’s Mark Knoller has kept track of presidential vacations for years and supplied the data.

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.

via CBS News.

But I hate to even waste my precious, limited brainpower on which President took the most vacation, or what counts as a vacation.  (Supporters of President George W. Bush claim that being at home on your ranch doesn’t count as being on vacation; unfortunately, President Obama doesn’t own a ranch.)  A Presidential vacation is not really a vacation, since he is never completely away from his job.  But this doesn’t matter, either.

What matters is whether a President’s decisions bring the nation in the direction of peace and prosperity, and keep it mired in war and recession.  If taking time to unwind helps a President – any President – to make good decisions, I’m all for it.  If a President makes bad decisions, it doesn’t matter how many days or hours he spent in the office.

In an earlier era, we didn’t worry about such things so much.  President Nixon had not one, but two, “summer White Houses,” but his harshest critics (such as me) didn’t care about this.  Fussing about trivia diverts attention from the things we should be concerned about – unemployment, foreign wars, civil liberties and the other issues that affect people’s lives.

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