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Fact Of The Day: Presidential Vacations

08-17-2011 by Linda S. Carbonell

Pres. Bush on his ranch

Let’s get this one out of the way. The right wing alleges that President Obama takes too many vacation days, plays too much golf, doesn’t work hard enough. Donald Trump actually accused the President of taking more vacation time than any president in Trump’s memory. Apparently, Trump is suffering from selective amnesia.

Here are the facts: Thirty-one months into his term, President Obama has taken 61 vacation days (one count says 65). The upcoming 10 days on Martha’s Vineyard will take him up to 71 or 75. President George W. Bush had taken 180 days, while conducting two wars. President Ronald Reagan had taken 112 days. President Bill Clinton held the record, having taken only 28 days vacation in his first 31 months. Unlike Bush and Reagan, Obama and Clinton do not have ranches to retreat to. Bush 41 had an estate in Maine. The Clintons didn’t even own a house, having lived in the Arkansas governors’ mansion before moving into the White House.

Sometimes, it’s not the amount of time but the activities that rate criticism for a Presidential vacation. During Desert Storm, when so many were saying President George H. W. Bush had sent our troops to Kuwait to protect the oil, he was on vacation at Kennebunkport tooddling around in his cigarette boat. Those speed boats notoriously get about 2 miles to the gallon, or some equally minuscule mileage.

It’s President Obama’s golf games that seem to infuriate people even more than his vacations. For a while, he was heading out to play golf either on Saturday or Sunday of every week with decent weather. His favored course was the one at a nearby military base, not some pricey country club. The Presidency is a 24/7 job. Even on vacation the President is tied to his staff and receiving daily briefings. He also does what most of us don’t – he lives over his office. A hundred years ago, most shop owners lived over the store, but these days that is rare and only farmers live in such proximity to their work. And most of us get two days off, completely off, every week. A morning off, maybe 30 weeks out of the year, is hardly excessive. President Obama has turned noticeably gray in the past 31 months. Maybe he needs more time off, not criticism for what time he has spent.

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