As the country takes a rolling somersault into General Election mode, members of the GOP top brass aim their barbs at President Obama whenever and wherever they can. Most specifically, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and even Mitt Romney, try desperately to paint President Obama as irresponsible, “lounging on vacation,” and now ”failing to lead” by “campaigning too much” during a presidential election year. Of course, if Mittens had his way, Obama would just stop campaigning, “start packing” and just hand the election over to the man that most Republicans refer to as a flip-flopping empty suit.
But is President Obama taking too many vacation days? Is he spending too much time on the campaign trail?
What about vacation accrued beyond the first year? As of August 2011 Obama had spent 31 months in office. Pictured here is a chart showing vacation days taken after one year in office, and then vacation days accrued after 31 months in office.
According to CBS News, President GW Bush, by the end of his tenure, spent a grand total of 490 days vacationing at his Texas ranch and 487 days at Camp David. So we’ve established that President Obama does not even come close to being Vacationer-in-Chief! This week, however, Republicans raised yet another issue.
According to The Hill, Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday accused President Obama of “shrinking from his responsibility to lead” and going “AWOL,” placing full blame for Washington’s dysfunction at the doorstep of the White House. Are we to infer that Boehner and McConnell look to Obama for leadership? I’m betting Obama never knew how lost they were without him! While we may all agree that members of congress are, for the most part, grown-ups who are responsible for their own “dysfunction,” there is the apparent underlying issue of the President abandoning his office in the interest of his campaign. Surely, we’ve all seen President Obama on the stump these past months. But is this out of the ordinary? Is John Boehner correct?
While there is evidence of President Obama actively campaigning, there is evidence that he also attends to his presidential duties. Just last week, he attended the CEO Summit of the Americas in Colombia and spoke on Trade and the Economy at the Port of Tampa. He has been on hand to sign several pieces of legislation including April’s Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act.
Yet another inconvenient fact is that other incumbents before President Obama have spent significant blocks of time on the campaign trail. In February 2004 President Bush was deemed to have officially started his campaign when he openly attacked a speech delivered by John Kerry. In fact, GW kicked off his fundraising drive in June 2003 at the Washington Hilton, in a joint appearance with Vice-President Dick Cheney. By today’s date in 2004, George Bush had already been campaigning for 10 full months. Other sources argue that GW permanently campaigned since 2001 with strategic visits to key “swing” states.
The more one delves into the facts concerning vacationing and campaigning practices, the more ridiculous the GOP umbrage appears. One cannot help but wonder if, with a presumptive nominee who has yet to win the trust of the conservative wing, the leadership finds it necessary to draw as much blood as they can in the hope of weakening their well-spoken and well-liked opponent. After all, their presumptive nominee is guilty of being an über-campaigner himself while on the job. The Boston Globe reports that by 2006 while he was still governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney had set his sights on a presidential bid. During that year, he spent a full 212 days away from Massachusetts, an average of more than four days on the road each week.
So, what then is the basis for this most recent GOP “outrage”? Do you not think that the Republican congress and Mitt Romney need to come before the American public with fewer distractions and more concrete plans for creating jobs and moving our country forward? Are Mr. Romney and the GOP counting on a smear campaign to take them through November? No wonder they need a grown-up in the room.