President Obama has headed off on another vacation, this time to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Of course, all presidents take time off from the rigors of office, and that’s a good thing. The U.S. would be poorly served by any president who is so beaten down by the pressures of office that he couldn’t properly do his job. Being president is a very tough job, and getting away from its demands is a nice break, even if it is for a short time.
I remember reading about the vacations President George W. Bush went on, and people pointed to his many vacations as a sign of a bad president. According to the article, he spent 487 days at Camp David, and 490 days at his Crawford ranch in Texas. And so that means he was completely cut off from his office, right? Pfft. A president isn’t ever really away from his job, not even when on vacation. In the middle of a transoceanic flight on Air Force One, the president is in constant communication with the rest of government. Camp David is just as connected as Air Force One and so was Pres. Bush’s ranch. During his time away from the White House, Pres. Bush was still getting his daily briefings of current events and threats, and Pres. Obama is undoubtedly doing the same on his vacations.
Both Camp David and Pres. Bush’s ranch in Texas were excellent places for some a little presidential R-and-R. Both have been set up to support a president and his needs without completely disrupting the people around. But when a president or his family goes someplace else, the visit is a huge disruption to the locals. You can see a clear demonstration of this disruption during Mrs. Obama’s vacation in Spain. As her group went around, security had to clear out buildings, check for suspicious people, and cordon off beaches just for the First Lady’s use. I certainly understand the need for security, and to a lesser extent privacy, but the end result still remains: a visiting president and family is a major disruption. Just ask the people stuck for hours in bumper-to-bumper L.A. traffic because Pres. Obama made a short visit there.
Frankly, I’m glad Pres. Obama is taking his vacations, even if it means causing a ruckus around the States. Each vacation means he is able to blow off some of the pressure of office, and hopefully that means we will have a better president.
But I’m not holding my breath.