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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Presidential vacations perspective by The Week editor William Falk

"No one on his/her deathbed ever wishes they'd spent more time at the office."

It makes no sense in our "real time 24/7" social networking and cable news world for people to criticize President Obama, or any other president, for taking a vacation with his family. In reality, there is no vacation for the person known as POTUS, in twitterdom.  
Nevertheless, news media sources raise issues about President Obama's "vacation" on Martha's Vineyard, Mass., and the federal government's response, or lack thereof, in tumultuous Ferguson, Missouri. Somehow, President Obama was supposed to have some influence over violent events in Ferguson, following the mortal incident where a young black man was shot to death by a local police officer. Obviously, violent street demonstrations in Fergeson erupted after the incident, independently of anybody's vacation, including the President of the United States.

William Falk writes a comment on the "presidential vacation" issue in the August 15, 2014 issue of "The Week":

"It's August, which means it's time for the presidential vacation on Martha's Vineyard. By now, everyone knows the drill: President Obama plays golf, hangs with friends, and eats ice cream cones with Sasha and Malia, while his critics fulminate over the leader of the free world chillaxing while the U.S. careens toward World War III, or even worse, toward no wars at all. But, such carping is not new (see Best U.S. columns). Democrats heaped scorn on President Reagan for his extended horsey vacations at Rancho de Cielo and on George W. Bush for escaping with great regularity to his Texas ranch, where he blew off steam, in his shiny pickup truck. Swilling white wine with the swells or playing cowboy in the sagebrush: To each his own."

"No one should be shamed for taking a vacation. To get away is restorative, and essential to mental and physical health. Only in America do we equate workaholism with virtue and view time spent at the shore or in the mountains or in the desert as time wasted- as evidence of laziness. Americans work more hours and take less vacation than citizens of any prosperous country in the world; most workers in Europe (including the highly productive Germans) get six paid weeks off. Whole countries shut down in August. This is sensible and, indeed, civilized. As the saying goes, 'No one on his deathbed ever wishes he'd spent more time at the office.' Summer is passing quickly, my friends; may I suggest you take a hint from Barack, George and the Gipper, and give yourself a well-deserved break from whatever you do to pay the bills. The world will be no worse when you return, but you'll be better."

In other words, there is no evidence of presidential vacations having any impact on the outcomes of world or domestic events. This correlation is largely a media fabrication.

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