Someone called in to a radio show yesterday complaining that he rarely hears people complain when Congress is out of session, but they give the President grief for taking a vacation, and he doesn’t see why Congress should get time away if the President doesn’t.
I was unsuccessful in calling in to the show, so I’ll give my two cents here.
First, it seems like every time you turn around, Obama’s on a trip.
CBS News brings us this fact “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.”
But it compares vacations to Martha’s Vineyard, Europe, and Hawaii to spending time at your own house. I think there’s a huge difference, particularly when you consider the present economy in the United States. We are at record high unemployment, the country is in a heap of debt, we just had our credit rating downgraded… and the President decides to go on a taxpayer-funded campaign tour disguised as a listening tour and then go spend a week at Martha’s Vineyard.
Second, Congresspeople live in their home districts. They work in DC, but they live in, say, Iowa. The President lives at the White House. (And, as noted, many Presidents also have their own private homes which they enjoy spending time at, as well.) Everyone needs to be home sometimes.
Third, the job of those in Congress is to represent the people in their district. How can they do that if they spend all of their time in Washington DC? They need time away from DC to interact with their constituents. The President’s job is not so dependent on interacting with his constituents.
I guess I don’t see Presidential vacations as being comparable to Congress being out of session.