Take a vacation, Mr. President

Who does not like a good vacation? I know I do. It’s a time to get away from your career and put the stress of the world behind you.

But what if you are the President of the United States? I’ve got a feeling it might be a little more difficult to escape the stress of that career choice.

Since taking office in January 2009, President Obama has taken 48 vacation days.  Obama, along with his wife and daughters, frequents Martha’s Vineyard and its Blue Heron Farm, a 28.5-acre getaway that the President rents for weeks at a time.

I get that Obama is a fan of heading up east every now and then with his family, but what about his predecessors? Were they actually taking the week off from being president and delegating their tasks? I don’t think so.

While in office, President George W. Bush spent roughly 487 days at Camp David, the presidential retreat.  He was also known to head down South to Crawford, Texas—490 days to be exact. Then there is the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine where he spent 43 days.

That’s 1020 vacation days, more than one-third of his presidency.

But, Bush and Obama are not the first commanders in chief known to take long siestas.

President Bill Clinton, when he left office, had only taken 152 vacation days and was described by staffers as a “workaholic.”

His predecessor, George H.W. Bush spent roughly 543 days shuttling between Washington, D.C., Camp David and Kennebunkport, Maine.

Ronald Reagan loved to head back to his native California to spend time at his famous Santa Barbara ranch—335 days in eight years.  Before him, Jimmy Carter spent only 79 days vacationing away from Washington, usually in South Plains, Ga.

President John F. Kennedy and his family would spend long summers at the Kennedy Compound on the coast in Hyannis Port, Mass.

So with all these vacation days racked up by presidents over the years, it begs the question,  are they really on vacation?

According to White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton, not really.

“Whenever you talk about a presidential vacation you ought to put the word vacation in quotes because you can bet that there will still be work that he’s doing every day,” Burton said in a recent press conference.

Sure you can go up to Martha’s Vineyard for a week or head down to Texas for a month but there’s one thing you can’t escape and that’s running a country.

For years, presidents have been known to have secondary residences that they “vacation” at for long periods of time. These residences become known as the “western White House” by the public, media and Secret Service.

These homes are fitted by the Secret Service for security and manned by staffers so it becomes about as secure as the White House.

Lyndon Johnson spent most of his time at the “LBJ Ranch”, in Blanco County, Texas. Nixon had “La Casa Pacifica”, in San Clemente, Calif.  Reagan had his “Rancho del Cielo”, in Santa Barbara, Calif. George W. Bush’s Crawford Ranch was his “western White House.”

While all these men spent great portions of their Presidencies at these retreats, they always had their staff in tow.  All hosted royalty and heads of state from around the world, conducting business away from Washington.

Throughout his eight years in office, President Bush hosted 18 heads of state on his estate in Crawford. It is even rumored this is where the decision was made by the President to go into Iraq.

To give President Obama, or any other president, grief for escaping the stress of the Beltway every now and then is a pretty baseless argument.

To say that nothing is accomplished while out of the nations capital is an even larger farce.


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