Republicans are outraged over Obama’s 17 day Christmas vacation, but George W. Bush took at least 4 vacations that were longer than Obama’s including one scheduled for five weeks in August 2005.
The right has been using the payroll tax extension against Obama by claiming that he is going on a long Christmas vacation while the middle class suffers. (The White House has stated that the vacation may be delayed if the payroll tax extension is not passed. What’s most interesting is that Obama’s Christmas break isn’t that long or unprecedented.
George W.Bush’s August 2005 vacation which was scheduled for five weeks, but was cut short by two days due to Hurricane Katrina, was at the time the longest presidential vacation in 36 years. As the Washington Post wrote, “The president departed Tuesday for his longest stretch yet away from the White House, arriving at his Crawford ranch in the evening to clear brush, visit with family and friends, and tend to some outside-the-Beltway politics. By historical standards, it is the longest presidential retreat in at least 36 years.” Bush’s advisers had grown sensitive to the charges that the president was on vacation too much so they sprinkled some day events into his vacation calendar.
In August 2002, Bush took a 25 day vacation away from the White House that was once again sprinkled with day trips to make it look like the president was still working, but after these little trips, he always returned to Crawford not D.C. At the time The LA Times wrote, “Administration officials clearly are sensitive to any criticism that Bush’s 25-day break at his ranch near Crawford, Texas, is too long, given the economy and the threat of terrorism.” Bush also went on vacation for a month in August of 2003.
The most infamous of all Bush vacations was the 27 day break he took in August of 2001, one month before the 9/11 attacks. In August 2001, the AP wrote, “President Bush seems to bolt from the White House every chance he gets. He begins a month-long vacation on his Texas ranch today, and by the time he returns he will have spent nearly two months of his presidency there. And that doesn’t include the many weekends he’s spent at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains.”
Then we have the case of Ronald Reagan who took a 25 day vacation in August 1983 while unemployment was at 9.5%. The Washington Post wrote, “The negative news coverage that the president abhors was a topic of discussion at a White House breakfast the day before Reagan left on his present 25-day trip, the 17th stopover at his ranch since his election.” The GOP deified Ronald Reagan once took a 25 day vacation, but Obama can’t have 17 days off for Christmas with his family.
Obama has spent fewer days on vacation than Bush or Reagan, and it is likely that his 2011 Christmas break will be delayed just as his 2010 Christmas vacation was. President Obama said that he will not go on vacation until Congress passes an extension of the payroll tax cut. Obama doesn’t need the working vacation cover story that was utilized by both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. The difference between Obama and his Republican predecessors is that he is going to stay on the job until the work is done.
In this day and age the president can work from anywhere, but every time Republicans try to make political hay out of Obama going on vacation it only serves to remind the American people that Barack Obama is willing to delay his vacation in order to do right by them.
Image: LA Times Jacket Copy