One of the constant themes from President Bush’s critics is that he’s “always out on vacation.” They cite various numbers detailing how many days he’s been on his ranch in Crawford, at Camp David, and various and sundry other places.
This argument is an utter load of crap, and I’m tired of hearing it.
Being President is unlike nearly any other job in the world. One is “President” 24 hours a day (25 tomorrow), 7 days a week, 365 days a year (366 this year). Presidents don’t get “vacations.” They occasionally escape from the fortified fishbowl that is the White House and cut back on some of the lighter responsibilities, but they NEVER get to shuck all the duties and just kick back. I recall one president actually signing papers to pass power to his vice-president once during a surgical procedure, but I can’t recall if it was Reagan, Bush, or Clinton. Reagan was also technically powerless while he was being treated after being shot, but he never got a full “vacation.”
And with modern communications, no President is ever truly “out of touch.” Granted, it’s more convenient at the White House, but Camp David and his ranch in Crawford are seriously wired enough now that he can do most of his duties there.
The main job of a president is to gather information and make decisions. President Bush can do that just about anywhere, at any time. And if he feels the need to breathe a little unfiltered air and escape from the relentless scrutiny of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, more power to him.
But while we’re on the subject, let’s look at his rivals. Senators Kerry and Edwards have been on extended “vacations” since the start of their campaigns. And the main duties of senators are to attend meetings and cast votes. Kerry has missed about 90% of all votes in the Senate in the current term, and Edwards is right up there. And it’s on record that Kerry has missed nearly all the public meetings of the Senate Intelligence Committee since 9/11.
This really goes to show the character of these two men. They’ve not bothered to fulfill their sworn duties as Senators, yet still maintain the title and collect the pay. The citizens of Massachusetts and North Carolina are paying for two Senators, but only getting any service from one each.
When Bob Dole ran for president in 1996, he resigned his Senate seat (which he probably could have held safely for life) so as to not short-change his constituents in Kansas. It’s a pity Kerry and Edwards don’t have one smidgen of his sense of responsibility.