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Obama NYC Date Night Highlights Bush Vacation Record

May 31, 2009

That Republicans are apoplectic about President Obama's "date night" in New York is pathetically predictable. That the GOP and its conservative water carriers remain silent about George W. Bush's record-breaking presidential vacation time is less surprising still.
To be sure, some will quibble with Obama's decision to fulfill his pledge to his wife that they would attend a Broadway show after the campaign. Few would question Obama's work ethic while confronting the myriad, simultaneous challenges bequeathed to him by President Bush. Most would laud his use of the smaller Gulfstream jet rather than Air Force One for the jaunt to New York. But with the country struggling economically and GM poised to announce bankruptcy this week, the Republican National Committee sneered:

"Have a great Saturday evening - even if you're not jetting off somewhere at taxpayer expense."

(The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen has a run-down of some of the more preposterous belly-aching from the raging right.)
Of course, President Obama's brief escape to New York is a reminder of the breakneck pace and long days of his White House. It also serves a stark contrast to the "barely working" George W. Bush, the man Dan Froomkin aptly named "The Vacation President."
As it turns out, Bush easily eclipsed Ronald Reagan's previous record for presidential sloth. By March 2008, Bush had spent all or part of 879 days at his Crawford, Texas ranch or at Camp David, surpassing Reagan's mark of 866. By the time he left office, George W. Bush had made 149 trips to and spent 487 days at Camp David, with another 77 getaways to (and 490 days at) Crawford. Toss in 11 visits and 43 days at his folks' compound in Kennebunkport, Maine and President Bush spent 1020 days - 35% of his presidency - getting away from the White House.
And it's what President Bush missed during his down time that is all the more disturbing still. For example:

  • During his month-long August 2001 Crawford vacation spent agonizing over stem cell research, the CIA briefed Bush on the its now legendary pre-9/11 PDB, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.' Bush's response? "All right. You've covered your ass, now."
  • As Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, Bush nevertheless decided to continue his vacation. As New Orleans was inundated, Bush strummed a guitar with country singer Mark Wills and shared a birthday cake with John McCain on an Arizona airport tarmac. While Bush eventually cut short his trip, the damage to the nation - and his presidency - was done.
  • As Israel and Hezbollah went to war in southern Lebanon in July 2006, President Bush managed to stay in Washington. But as the carnage escalated, Bush used the time in the office to welcome the finalists of American Idol to the White House.

No doubt, the manufactured controversy over the Obamas' date in New York will dominate cable news and talk radio for at least the next 24 hours. But the trip should be the exception that proves to the rule, a quick break for a hard-working president.
Americans haven't had one of those for a long time.

7 comments on “Obama NYC Date Night Highlights Bush Vacation Record”

  1. Bush, although afforded abundant R&R time because Cheney managed to "hold down the fort", has left etched upon my mind that 9/11 imagery of a befuddled Commander in Chief reading "My Pet Goat" oblivious to the world.

  2. Be fairer to Mr. Reagan -- he was an elderly man suffering after having received a grievous bullet wound, and also slipping into dementia. That's not sloth; only George W. Bush can claim the sloth prize.

  3. Trouble is, Obama could care less if the economy is struggling, as long as he has his photo op with his wife at the Opera. And your code name for "cable news" (all one channel that the Libs don't own) and talk radio is poignant. Thanks for admitting that the media has been and clearly is still in the bag for Obama.

  4. Chevrie: you are way out of line. Bush W. did not care about the economy. When Bush W left the White House in 2009, we first heard that the rescession began in Dec. 2007. Where was Bush? Why didn't he do anything to protect American workers? When all the jobs were being outsourced to other countries, your Bush W was telling us that the economy was fine and that Americans shouldn't worry. When Katrina occurred, your Bush W was on vacation. Don't you remember that TV spot where Bush and dummy Brown are doing their photo op and Bush says, "Brownie you've got everything under control."
    You better start reading newspapers. You're just like a lot of Americans: Can't stand to have a real working president like Obama, and to top it off, Obama is black.

  5. Millie,
    You seem to be an avid Bush hater but fail to take into acount the fact that all the vactions presidents take are working vacations. Bush did care about the economy but the full ramifications of the recession were not really known until it had begun. We have yet to see any real effects of the Obama iniated tril. dollar stimulous package. It is unfortunate that Bush did make some mistakes in office that have cost him politically but at least he had convictions that he stood by and was not swayed by the everchanging public oppinion polls. I will be interested to see what if anything President Obama will be able to accomplish in office even with a Dem. majority in the House and Senate. Hopefully he will be able to see that his over ambitious social projects and community organizing are something that will ultimately hurt the American economy.

  6. Ben,
    "...but at least he had convictions that he stood by and was not swayed by the everchanging public opinion polls..."
    So, you think that it's good for one to stand by bad decisions once the consequences have been found to be enormous, and then embrace them even more fully, when things become disastrous ?
    Bush's intransigence was his biggest failing. He ignored those around him who were more experienced, with a diligence surpassed only by a stubborn 4-year-old. He had no time for even the faithful servants of the right, who worked for Reagan and for Bush I , who warned him of the danger of his ways.
    Bush's only conviction was to ignore reality at all costs, and it's one that has cost America more than any president, Democrat or Republican, will ever be able to rebuild.

  7. The federal government is NOT responsible for natural disasters. He gave money, which was the right thing to do. Everything else such as shelters and rebuilding the town is the STATE'S responsibility. Take some government classes, for christ's sake.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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