Jay Carney on presidential vacations then and now

Exactly ten years ago, in August 2001, a young, callow Time magazine writer, Jay Carney, mocked President George W. Bush (R) for pretending to work on his vacation, asking

Bush, on Vacation, Pushes for Photo Ops:  Caring or Cynical?

The imagemakers who advise George W. Bush got what they wanted this week: a photograph, taken by the Associated Press and published in seemingly every newspaper in the country, of the President lifting a telephone pole as he "helped maintain" a nature trail in Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park.

Back in July, when they were planning what the President should do during his monthlong vacation (as part of their effort to convince the public that he wasn't actually on vacation in the generally accepted sense of what the word means -- i.e., having fun and not working), the imagemakers hit upon a clever idea. Every week, they decided, they would send the President somewhere outside Texas for a day or a day and a half to hold an event of some kind in which he would mix with "real Americans."


Now, I'm not going to feign shock by the fact that Bush is using photo ops in an attempt -- some might say a cynical attempt -- to influence public opinion. It would be news if he weren't doing that.


The President's most glaring weakness is the public's perception that he is pro-business and anti-environment. Given the high marks he's getting for his overall job performance and deft handling of the stem-cell-research question, some might even say it's his only weakness. The question now is whether a few photo ops will fix the problem -- or just make it worse.

Fast forward to August 2011 when a middle aged but still callow President Barack Hussein Obama's (D) Press Secretary, Jay Carney, defends his boss' forthcoming expensive vacation and extensive fund raising tours in the midst of a deepening recession and a second unrecovery summer when many are staycationing. 


[Y]es, the president does plan to travel with his family at the end of August to Martha's Vineyard, as he has in the past. And I don't think Americans out there would begrudge that notion that the president would spend some time with his family. It is also, I think -- as anyone who has covered it in the past, either in this administration or others, there's no such thing as a presidential vacation. 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's not very far.

Why no, most Americans certainly wouldn't "begrudge that notion that the president would spend some time with his family."  Which he could easily do at the White House. 

And yes, even ten years ago, "the presidency travels with you" and Bush had access to such newfangled devices as telephones and computers to keep informed. 

And the few photo ops and sound bites sure to emerge from Martha's Vineyard of an oh so concerned Obama interrupting  his vacation and blaming Congress and the problems he inherited from the vacationing Bush will definitely not fix Obama's problems--they will just make our country's problems worse.