I hate it when people criticize the president for taking a vacation. If ever there was a job that required rest and sucks the life right out of you it is Commander-in-chief. Just look at a “before and after” photo of any president and you can see the toll it takes. So when I heard people jumping on President Obama this past week for not rushing down to Louisiana to survey the devastating flood damage I just rolled my eyes and chalked it up to partisan politics.
The White House spokesman said if President Obama flew down there with his entourage they only would have gotten in the way. He’s right. He also said there was nothing the president could have done, short of picking up a mop, that he couldn’t do from his command center on Martha’s Vineyard. He’s right about that too. There was no point cancelling his much-needed rest for what would have been little more than a “photo op.” Right?
Then I remembered something. Back in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina turned the gulf coast into a bath tub, then-Senator Barack Obama gave a terse speech criticizing the Bush administration for its horrible response. And make no mistake, it was horrible. Senator Obama pointed out in the speech that the poorest people were the hardest hit and called out the Bush administration for what he called the “passive indifference” toward the poor who were literally underwater.
Why do I bring it up? Because you can’t call out one president for not jumping to action and then when it is your chance to show the way, 11 years later, play endless rounds of golf with celebrities while tens of thousands lose their homes. What was that phrase your grandmother was fond of saying? Oh yeah, pot meet kettle.
I think President Obama has done a very good job of responding to tragedies in this country and by all accounts, things are going about as well as can be expected right now in Louisiana. My point is if he wanted to take a shot at President Bush for not being more directly involved after a flood then he should not have been on the back nine cracking jokes with Larry David while people lost everything; some their very lives. He shouldn’t have been attending fundraisers for Hillary Clinton. Or if he wanted to do those things he should have hit the pause button on the vacation, made a pit stop in Baton Rouge to show support, then jetted back to the vineyard to finish off the fun. Seeing photos of people waist deep in water while the president yucks it up on the golf course… the optics of it alone were cringe-worthy.
I’m glad when our presidents take vacations. They deserve it. But you have to admit there’s a little bit of hypocrisy going on here. Maybe more than a little.