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Okay, Enough Complaining About Presidential Vacations Already…

The world always appears to be in turmoil, but one could make a hell of case that it really is these last few weeks. Indeterminate war rages across the Middle East from Iraq to Israel, a small town in suburban America became the flashpoint for a civil rights spectacle, and the quiet battle for Crimea unfolds. Yet, it is also August, traditionally the time when Americans who afford such basic luxuries take their summer vacations, leaving the responsibilities and woes of work behind for a time.

That is, of course, unless you are the President. While the Obama family has spent time in Martha’s Vineyard, the President has addressed the nation a number of times about these matters. Yet, his short conferences – often in a shirt and coat sans tie, one almost expects him to be wearing cargo shorts and flip flops behind the podium and out of the view of the cameras – have seemed only to feed the narrative of his opponents who suggest that taking a vacation at this time indicates the President is either incredibly apathetic or alarmingly inept.

This is simply petulant nonsense. First, as noted by The Washington Post and others, President Obama has only taken off about 150 of the past 2406 days. President Reagan took more than twice that amount of time off during his two terms and President George W. Bush has taken the most vacation days of any of them at 879 days.

The Post points to what Nancy Reagan said, “Presidents don’t get vacations – they just get a change of scenery.” What she meant was that even though the President is technically taking down time, he travels with enough staff and resources to effectively run the country.

However, they also get some time to relax and reflect which ultimately proves to be good for the country. As noted by The Nation and others, time off increases productivity and people’s effectiveness in their jobs. Many Presidents, such as FDR or Lincoln, have returned from their vacations with policy initiatives that have ultimately helped the country.

In fact, rather than criticizing the President, Congress, and the Court from taking summer vacations, we should demand that all Americans get that same opportunity.

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About the author

Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. Along with news and current events, he writes about parenting, art, and personal stories. His serial fiction story "The Prophet Hustle" is available at JukePop.com and a forthcoming independent ebook about the cam-modeling industry "Dirty Little Windows" will be available later this summer.

  • Jennie K. Diller-Daniels

    However, I would like to point out that congress has sucked the last few years, and shouldn’t get time off outside of a couple of weeks in the summer and federal holidays.

    • Joshua M. Patton

      Thanks for reading and commenting. While I agree with you, I do think that rather than vilifying them for taking their time, we as Americans should demand that vacations become a part of working life at all levels of employment. Of course, as someone who works 7 days/week, I might be biased! (Although, I’m far luckier than most as I am doing exactly what I wanted to be doing when I was 10 years old….)