Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Should The President Really (Still) Be On Vacation Right Now?!?

While we'd love to think that politics is all about policies, great ideas, and legislation, common sense dictates that it's seldom that complex. In a country where most people only (pretend to) care about their elected officials every 4 years, reality is optics play just as much of a role in how a candidate is perceived as whatever laws they're able to pass. If you think I'm kidding, consider how more media attention has been given to Rick Perry's hair and voice than the trickery he is trying to pass off as "The Texas Miracle".[1]

I've long contended that President Obama's unwillingness (or tonedeafness) to do sweat the small stuff has only fueled the perception that he's "not like Real Americans". From not wearing lapel pins, to refusing to go to Ground Zero on 9/11, to getting involved with the Chicago Olympics bid, to waiting weeks to visit the Gulf after the oil spill, to this 27 hour mini vacation to Florida waaaay after the fact, to Michelle-O's trip to Spain, it does seem like The Obamas either don't care about public perception, or are completely oblivious.

So while I obviously think President Obama is entitled to an occasional vacation, I can't help but think that given his current approval rating, a different time and place might be wise.
President Obama was golfing Tuesday as an earthquake rolled across the Eastern Seaboard. Though immediate reports of damage and injuries were minimal, Obama held a conference call with top homeland security and federal emergency management officials an hour after the quake occurred at 1:51 p.m. EDT.

Tremors from the 5.8-magnitude quake centered in Virginia were felt on some parts of Martha’s Vineyard on Tuesday, including in Oak Bluffs, where the small group of reporters traveling with the president's motorcade were waiting for him to finish his game near the Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs.

The White House did not immediately release any information about whether the president felt the quake or if he cut the golf game short after the quake struck.

At the time, Obama was golfing with his Chicago friend Eric Whitaker and White House trip director Marvin Nicholson -– who are part of his usual foursome -– as well as lawyer Vernon Jordan, a close confidante of President Bill Clinton who has a vacation home on the island.

During the 2:50 p.m. conference call, top advisers told the president there were no initial reports of major infrastructure damage. Administration officials are monitoring airports and nuclear facilities, but White House officials said they had not received any requests for assistance.
Yes, I already know. Dude is being briefed everyday. Yes, I know he is holding pressers while on vacation. Yes, I know Congress is in recess. Yes, I know every past President has taken a similar number of trips. But guess what? I don't care.

Reality is, the economy is in the sh*tter. Just because Obama is certainly entitled to take a 10-day, $50k/week vacation, that doesn't mean it's a good idea. And please don't mention the words "George Bush". He isn't the President, and he'd be equally tonedeaf if this was him taking a similar trip at such a crucial juncture.

I'm sure someone's gonna confuse this as "hateration", and some clueless nitwits are gonna stumble on this site and accuse me of being a Tea Partier. Reality is, I've been the biggest Obama Apologist© there is when he's been worthy of defense. But this trip deserves no such defense. Not when unemployment is a persistent problem, the market is on a roller coaster, and your approval rating is approaching the Mendoza Line. If Obama had a single person with an iota of common sense in his inner circle, maybe he'd understand how this looks to working (and non-working) stiffs.

Why not just take a short vacation to somewhere much less exclusive, say the Outer Banks? Or why not just send the fam on vacation and keep working? I'm just sayin'.

Question: Do you find Obama a bit clueless when it comes to optics and ceremonial gestures?

[1] Seriously, go watch this, and try not to toss your laptop out the window before the segment ends.

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