by Daniel Clark
You can tell that things are looking up in Iraq, because President Bush's enemies are having to delve deeper into the mothballs to come up with reasons to criticize him. One example of this is an Aug. 9th Houston Chronicle story by Julie Mason, in which she revives the fatuous argument that Bush spends too much time on vacation.
Citing numbers that had been compiled by a CBS reporter, Mason writes that Bush is only a couple weeks away from breaking Ronald Reagan's record for vacation days taken by a president. This assumes, ridiculously, that the President of the United States is no longer on duty when he leaves the White House. In reality, there is seldom any particular reason that the president must stay in Washington when Congress is out of session. It stands to reason, then, that Republican presidents would leave town more often, rather than remain in the midst of a hostile Washington press corps.
From the way that liberals talk about Bush's "vacations," you'd think that when he moved operations to his Crawford ranch, his work went undone. One imagines him returning to his desk to find one of those pink "While You Were Out" slips, saying something like, "Putin called. Said it was urgent, but you know how he is. Told him you'd gone fishing."
The headline of Mason's story dubs Bush "the vacation president," but the truth be known, President Clinton was more on vacation in the Oval Office than Bush has ever been in Crawford. For all we know, one of Clinton's many sordid trysts might have even involved a snorkel.
It was Clinton who said that the one thing he'd miss most about being president would be the White House movie theater. Any other president would have said something about the privilege of serving the American people, or maybe the dedication of his staff and secret servicemen, but leave it to Bill Clinton to take that question as an opportunity to audition for MTV's Cribs.
Observing the Clintons' behavior in the White House was a little like watching Abbott and Costello inherit a millionaire's mansion. After an entire episode of misusing everything and everybody they could find, they discovered in the end that they had to leave. On their way out, they almost literally took everything that wasn't bolted down.
If there was any question that Clinton saw his office more as a vacation place than a workplace, he answered it about a month into his presidency, when he backed out on his promise of a "middle-class tax cut." Only 26 days after his inauguration, he actually said, "I've worked harder than I've ever worked in my life to meet that goal, but I can't." Clearly, this is a man to whom "hard work" is a pair of four-letter words.
President Bush's "vacations" are really just changes in scenery. He's still doing the same job, whether he's in Crawford, Camp David or Kennebunkport. The Clintons' excursions to the Caribbean, to Martha's Vineyard and to Jackson Hole, Wyoming were hedonistic by comparison. Furthermore, Clinton took an extraordinary number of trips overseas, given that he was so neglectful of foreign policy that he studiously avoided his own CIA director.
According to a 2001 report by the National Taxpayers' Union, Clinton set all-time records for presidential travel in terms of countries visited (133) and days spent abroad (229). His predecessors, Reagan and G.H.W. Bush, combined for 109 visits and 220 days abroad in 12 years. Unlike those presidents' trips, many of Clinton's served no discernible foreign policy benefit.
Take, for instance, his 11-day ego trip through Africa, where he was treated like a king, and didn't exactly bother to correct anyone on that point. Later that same year, he spent 10 days in Red China, almost long enough to individually thank everyone who had contributed to his reelection campaign. Those reporters who keep track of presidential vacation days do not include these whimsical romps in their final tallies.
Gerald Ford was sometimes referred to as a caretaker president. Well, Bill Clinton was a taken-care-of president, who saw his position as little more than the sum total of its creature comforts. To him, the presidency consisted of the world's greatest entertainment center, a limitless expense account, and all the free vittles he could cram in his gizzard. For the Clintonites in the press to now say that Bush is the one shirking his presidential duties is about as dishonest and hypocritical as their accusing him of dodging the draft.
Daniel Clark is a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.
Carey Roberts is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. (www.thenma.org). The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.