With the economy tanking and unemployment soaring, particularly among African Americans with almost double the nation’s average, should President Obama be taking a 10 day vacation at this time, is the question being asked in the 24 hour news cycle. And the answers seem to go against the President. There are 5 reasons why President Obama should be taking a vacation.
President Obama is a father to 2 young girls and a husband. He does not give up those titles by becoming President of the U.S. He deserves to spend family time with them on a vacation. As for choice of vacation he does not have a family home in Crawford, Texas or Kennebunk, Maine to go to. But, choice of where to spend his vacation seems secondary to the issue. For some, no vacation is in order.
With Congress on extended leave since immediately after the debt deal was passed until September 5, there is little he can accomplish in the next 10 days to fix the economy and jobs situation. Calling back Congress to work and remaining here would only cause more contention and gridlock. Nothing would be accomplished except bickering.
Let’s be clear that the President is not really away from work as some people think. He’s not just sipping slurpees and ice cream cones, golfing and goofing off. He is always the President and Commander in Chief. And he will be working and briefed daily on the issues of the day with his staff. If a national emergency occurs during his time away, I am sure this President will return to Washington to deal with it, unlike his predecessor, former President George W. Bush, who stayed on vacation during the Hurricane Katrina crisis; And unlike Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who stayed in Disney World while the 2010 snow storm engulfed his state.
President Obama, like all previous presidents, needs a vacation to refresh and recharge. Some down time is needed for even presidents and heads of states. And the reason for the down time is to be able to return with clearer and better decision making powers. We certainly don’t want our President to be weary and worn out without any time off. That benefits no one.
Time away from the Washington area can only be good for the President to be able to return in 10 days and focus on the jobs issues. And no matter where he took a vacation, he would have been criticized.
Where does President Obama stack up with his predecessor in terms of time off? Well, Pres. George W. Bush had taken 180 days by this time in his presidency, including time off during the Hurricane Katrina crisis in New Orleans, compared to 61 days for Pres. Obama. And while President Bush was taking off all that time, he was also the one who caused our present economic difficulties. They are a direct result of his actions while in office. So if anyone should have foregone a vacation while in office, it should have been George W. Bush.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a legal and political commentator who is seen frequently in the media addressing issues on race and gender. She also contributes to the Huffington Post.