It’s August, which means it’s time for the President to take his summer vacation. Which means it’s time for the opposition to criticize the president for taking his summer vacation. As far back as I can remember—to the Clinton presidency—criticizing this annual abeyance has always been more ritual than substance. For instance, the media accused Clinton of taking a vacation to eat hamburgers. Or maybe that was an SNL sketch—either way, there wasn’t much substance to it.
I could see newspapers put on their editorial calendars six months ahead of time: “The president is going to Vail this summer and we need to be ready with a barely literate pun that means nothing. ‘To No Avail’?”
It seems, however, no president has been more criticized for these vacations than Barack, except for maybe Bush 43 for his 2001 vacation, which only received criticism in hindsight because 9/11 occurred two weeks later. Don’t ask me how Bush, who, according to his critics, was dumber than dumb, would have scotched 9/11 if only he would have been in the Oval Office to read top secret documents. Stopping a terrorist attack by reading top secret documents sounds like a good episode idea for The West Wing, which is why it makes sense to the Left.
Regardless, Barack is the point of order now, and he’s on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard amidst high unemployment, a detracted credit rating, and a country full of every other problem besides a burgeoning NFL season. Check Drudge Report for a full list of all things bad and hyperbolic.
Of course, playing the proverbial fiddle as Rome burns is apocalyptic PR, so Obama’s critics are going to do what they do best. But for a true Obama critic, and not somebody looking to appear above the fold, an idle president is a good president.
If your boss at work has offered nothing but failed, expensive ideas—economic stimulus, cash for clunkers, foreign policy disasters—yet thinks some minor variation of those policies is going to work in their next installment, then it’s a vacation for you when he’s on vacation. The last thing you would want, if you’re on the Right, is that community-organized brain back in the office thinking up some FDR-inspired recovery act.
At least it’s consistent for the Left to criticize Bush not showing up to work. The Left believes in government. They may not have liked Bush as their leader, but they believe that if you put enough smart people in a room, they will engineer a way out of problems. The Left would never believe that Bush could formalize an elaborate plan—except for 9/11—but since he was our president, they would want him back at work, at least trying to do his job out of duty if nothing else.
But for once, Obama is doing exactly what the Right wants him to do. The Right wants the government to do nothing, and the image of Obama riding his bike on the Vineyard, wearing a bike helmet (*fagcough*), and eating an ice cream cone is the perfect concretization of the government doing nothing.
I suppose it at least feels good to criticize the president, even if it’s just for the sake of criticizing him. It gives us a false sense of superiority, like we have all the answers. It obviates the need to think, or more specifically, it obviates that tingle of responsibility in the back of the head that compels us to think. And it probably helps us forget about our sucky lives for a few moments. Sounds like a good replacement for religion if the Right’s Christianity thing doesn’t work out.