Presidential vacations are a sideshow. However, criticism of them is and should be a national and bi-partisan pastime. President Obama’s recent golf outing to Florida is the latest in what can be described as a tone deaf outing given the nation’s issues.
He just got finished a campaign in which he advocated an anti-poverty program, explaining how sacrifice must be made, how hard he works, how sacrifices must be made and how he is the best advocate for women. Then he jets down to Florida on Air Force One for a golf weekend at an exclusive club with serial philanderer Tiger Woods.
Look, Presidents take vacations. Reagan took more, as did George W Bush. Bush arguably took off a full year out of eight (some wish he had taken all eight). Reagan had a line, quoting Nancy, that Presidents don’t get vacations – they get a change of scenery. To a certain extent this is true, the issues remain, the President stays in constant contact and modern communications mean he could serve from Wyoming.
But to me it is a matter of appearance. Symbolism matters. And I think the President has figured he isn’t running again and whatever criticism there may be it will die on the vine so there isn’t a political cost to a getaway he wouldn’t have dared before the election. It is a disappointment. And those who are critical of the media’s not pointing that out have a point on this occasion.