Politico covered something yesterday that I’ve been harping on on Twitter all month. Obama (and therefore his staffers) haven’t exactly matched Bush’s commitment to saving the world from overgrown Texas pig farms.
When President Barack Obama heads to Martha’s Vineyard for a little rest and relaxation later this month, it will be his first vacation in the seven months since he took office. And while the boss is away, the West Wing will finally empty out, too.
So far, the Obama administration has been running at a dizzying pace, with jam-packed days and an intense, ever-growing agenda. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs hasn’t missed a single daily briefing at the White House since his boss took office in January. With the exception of a long weekend or two, chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has hung around town. Senior adviser David Axelrod has yet to take a vacation other than a few jaunts to Chicago for Bulls games.
“I don’t think we had any other option,” Axelrod said in an interview with POLITICO. “There’s a lot of work to be done. We’ve got a lot of problems to solve. That requires a lot of energy and a lot of attention.”
But the holidays are here at last. Vice President Joe Biden will vacation on Kiawah Island in South Carolina for the next week. Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett will follow POTUS, her longtime friend, to the Vineyard during the last week in August. Axelrod will head for his lakeside vacation home in Michigan. Emanuel’s aides say he will take some time off, but they were unsure if he would head for Michigan, where he also has a home, or Florida, where he has vacationed, or someplace else.
Aside from a rather self-interested impatience on my part for Axe and Rahm to get to MI and start spending wads of cash, I raise this for a couple of reasons.
First, love or hate what the Obama Administration is doing, they’re working their asses off. It’s something that the press hasn’t covered, really. And in this story, the only comparison with Bush is a mention of the number of days in August 2001–24–that Bush spent clearing brush; by my count, Obama will have 11 vacation days this August, including a 4-day weekend next weekend. It deserves to be mentioned that Democrats once again have a work ethic that Republicans can’t seem to match (the same thing happened, btw, when Dems re-took Congress; Republicans bitched that they would have to work more than 2.5 days a week).
And, for as much as Obama is as good at creating his own mystique as the next guy (probably better), he hasn’t chosen to do so here. He’s going to go to Martha’s Vineyard, a location that has little upside spin, though a real association with Northeast liberals. He hasn’t–yet, at least–created the kind of stage set vacation home that so many of our TV era presidents have done. (That’s probably because any such stage set would be in Hawaii, and Cokie Roberts wouldn’t approve.)
Keep your eyes out next weekend, though. The Obama’s are headed out on the aforementioned long weekend. They’re headed to, curiously, Yellowstone and Grand Canyon.
After all, there’s simply no way they can clear out the places for the Obamas. The parks will be packed with people who have come from very long distances on long-planned family vacations at a national park. Which presents a security challenge. But also the possibility that the President’s very charismatic family will be engaged in the all-American summer vacation, not only like other families, but with other families (and a whole bunch of Europeans, as well). And maybe pitching health care along the way.
I gotta say this, though. Sasha and Malia–who will be enjoying a very abbreviated form of the same vacation lots of Americans take as 11 or 8 year olds–don’t know what they’re missing. When I was that age, I spent three weeks in the back seat fighting over invisible lines with two older brothers. I’m guessing the Obama girls are going to miss that fun as they head out for their requisite family national park trip on Air Force One.