News / USA

Obama Vacation Draws Criticism

President Barack Obama waves from the top of the steps of Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, on his way to Martha's Vineyard for vacation, Aug. 18, 2011
President Barack Obama waves from the top of the steps of Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, on his way to Martha's Vineyard for vacation, Aug. 18, 2011
Kent Klein

President Barack Obama is being criticized by Republicans and some Democrats for taking a 10-day vacation on the resort island of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Critics are unhappy about the timing and location of the trip.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney appeared to anticipate some of the criticism when he announced on August 10 that President Obama and his family would take some time away from Washington.

“The president does plan to travel with his family at the end of August to Martha’s Vineyard, as he has in the past," said Carney. "And I do not think Americans out there would begrudge that notion that the President would spend some time with his family.”

But some Americans say it is not appropriate for the president to leave the White House when financial markets are plummeting and unemployment remains high.

Among the most prominent critics is former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, one of the leading Republican presidential contenders.

Romney pointed out Wednesday that Mr. Obama’s trip follows a three-day bus tour through the Midwest.  He also said the president should not wait until after his vacation to unveil his new economic plan.

“We appreciate the fact that he is trying to devote some time to it," said Romeny. "[He is] not just going to be on the bus tour, not just going to be vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard, but giving some thought to the American people.  I would have thought that is what he would have done from day one.”

Criticism of the trip is not limited to Mr. Obama’s political opponents.  Some Democrats are expressing concern about the appearance of the president taking a vacation in an affluent resort area while millions of Americans are out of work.

Opinion writer Colbert King, of the Washington Post newspaper, is usually an Obama supporter.  But in a recent column he suggested that the president should spend some time with people who cannot afford to take a vacation, rather than, as he put it, “in splendid seclusion among the rich and famous.”

Presidential historian Allan Lichtman, a professor at Washington’s American University, says Mr. Obama is not the first president to take a critical beating for going on vacation.

“Criticizing presidential vacations is as old as the republic, and as tired as yesterday’s newspapers," said Lichtman.

Lichtman says the second U.S. president, John Adams, left Washington for his Massachusetts farm for seven months in 1798.  He was not re-elected.

In the 1950’s, Dwight Eisenhower was ridiculed for his many golf outings.  Democrats assailed Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush for their lengthy stretches of down time.

After several heavily-criticized visits to Martha’s Vineyard, Democrat Bill Clinton had aides take a public-opinion poll on where he should vacation.  As a result, he went instead to the Western resort of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

According to Lichtman, criticism of presidential vacations is unavoidable.

“No matter when he chose to take a vacation, he is going to take criticism that it is not the right time," he said. "I think he has got to operate under his own timetable.  Presidents need vacations.  It is the most difficult, the most demanding, the most harrowing job in the world.”

And a presidential vacation is not entirely an escape from the duties of the office, according to White House spokesman Jay Carney.

"There is no such thing as a presidential vacation," he said. "The presidency travels with you.  He will be in constant communication and get regular briefings from his national security team, as well as his economic team, and he will, of course, be fully capable, if necessary, of traveling back if that were required.  It is not very far.”

At least part of the president’s time in Martha’s Vineyard will be spent putting the finishing touches on a new plan to create jobs and cut the U.S. deficit.  He is expected to announce the proposals early in September.  

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid