A few weeks after none other than a suddenly critical NYT took on the topic of a "tone-deaf" president's vacation days during times of domestic and global crises, the topic of Obama's vacationing days during the twilight of his presidential career, one already marked with near record low approval ratings, has suddenly become mainstream media fodder.
Entier Reuters, which takes up NYT torch as follows:
President Barack Obama gave Americans an update on U.S. military strikes in Iraq on Saturday from a podium on the White House lawn with Marine One, the presidential helicopter, parked in the background.
Four hours later, he offered an altogether different tableau: a golf game with friends at a lush course on Martha's Vineyard, the upscale Massachusetts island where the president and his family began a two-week vacation.
contrasting scenes, which quickly sparked some hostile commentary from critics, illustrate the dilemma of taking time off when you are the most powerful leader in the world and, by definition, handling major issues all the time.
None of this is new or exclusive to Obama of course. His predecessor certainly wasn't immune from vacation gaffes:
While on vacation in Maine in August 2002, Republican President George W. Bush reacted to a suicide bombing in Israel from the first tee box on his golf course.
"I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you. Now, watch this drive," Bush said before swinging his club. The Republican president later gave up playing golf when his popularity plummeted after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Still, the volatile geopolitical state of the world which is the most fragile in decades, with the biggest threat, aside from the numerous regional wars, being the second Cold War spiralling out of control, is one which the president seems to take almost casually: it is this nonchallance that appears to have stunned most.
The president's Republican critics have already hammered him for going ahead with a vacation just days after authorizing airstrikes in Iraq - the first direct U.S. military action there since the last U.S. troops withdrew in 2011. But White House staff allowed press photographers to take pictures of the president with club in hand at the beginning of his Saturday game. That is rare. Journalists seldom get to view the president playing golf, which he does almost every weekend in Washington when the weather is good.
The fact that reporters were given access to him on the same day as his somber comments on Iraq showed a White House wanting to appear immune to critics of Obama's taking time off.
Judging by the response this is merely the latest tactical misstep by an administration that is now affectionately known as a bull learning to tango in a china store.
On Monday he plans to attend a Democratic fundraiser and, if previous vacations are a guide, he will spend the rest of his time putting, eating dinners at upscale restaurants, and spending time with his wife and two daughters
This year's presidential trip to the island is longer than previous years, when his stays have lasted just over a week. Obama, in office since 2009, is scheduled to return to the White House on Sunday for a couple of days of meetings before coming back to Martha's Vineyard to finish his vacation. Several dozen anti-Obama protesters held signs and waved at passing vehicles on Saturday afternoon at a traffic circle near a bridge that links Cape Cod to other parts of Massachusetts.
But what is the most damning aspect of this whole "straight to TV" scandal of an administration which should probably have been on vacation from day one, considering the fate of the US economy markets has been in the hands solely of the Federal Reserve, with both the legislative and the executive merely doing lip service to either Bernanke or Yellen, are Obama's own words on the relevant topic. To wit:
"You give me this office, and in turn, my fears, doubts, insecurities, foibles, need for sleep, family life, vacations, leisure is gone. I am giving myself to you. The American people should have no patience for whatever is going through your head because you have a job to do. You don't make that decision unless you are prepared to make that sacrifice, that tradeoff. Those who make mistakes in the president's office make them because they haven't fully thought through the dimensions of that choice."
And the clip:
For once, the president was spot on.