“Jetting Around” Obama’s Vacation Record

Presidential vacation time is always fodder for criticism no matter the economic environment but when the country is beset by a slow recovery it becomes much easier to rail against the current executive for enjoying some leisure time. This was evident in a testy interview moment between the President and KMOV St. Louis reporter Larry Conners when Obama was pressed on the first family’s “jetting around” on vacation at taxpayers’ expense.

The interview generated some buzz yesterday after the video’s release and appearance on Yahoo News. While the line of questioning was appropriate, the not so subtle accusations illustrated how Mr. Conners failed to put the current first family’s vacation time into contextual perspective by comparing it to the time other presidents have spent away from the White House.

      A direct comparison places Obama squarely on middle ground of presidential vacation days used. Of the past five presidents, during their first term in office, only two, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton took less time off than Obama. Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush and his son all spent much more time away from the White House than the current occupant. Obama’s retreat to Martha’s Vinyard in August 2011 sparked a particularly high number of criticisms, however at that point in his presidency he had only taken a total of 61 days off. Compared to that same time in office Ronald Reagan had spent 112 days on vacation and George W Bush had been away for a total of 180 days. Bill Clinton, at 28 days, had the least time off of recent presidents. Reagan held the total vacation day record of 436 until the younger Bush left office with a grand total of 977 days away from Washington, representing 1/3 of his presidency.

      Cost has been called into question when criticizing the Obama family retreats, their latest Hawaiian Christmas getaway was trounced upon when the Hawaii Reporter estimated it cost taxpayers $4 million. Much of these estimates are derived from estimating air travel costs which came under heightened criticism because the First Family flew in ahead of the President. But what is not communicated is that all these associated costs are the same for any presidential trip. The transport of staff, security services, vehicles and equipment are all standard for all presidential travel. And considering the comparatively infrequent vacation time Obama and his family have afforded themselves, these criticisms are disingenuous as they simply do not account for the costs accrued by previous administrations’ travel.

       This new round of presidential vacation criticism comes on the heals of Mitt Romney’s attempt to paint President Obama as out of touch due to his isolation within the ivory tower of the White House, fawned over by an adoring staff of “true believers”. Beyond the political rhetoric, there is truth in Romney’s statement but inaccuracies beguile his characterization of the Obama administration. The U.S. presidency, unfortunately, is isolated and has become increasingly so as it has functionally evolved over time, most notably in the arena of presidential security in the post-9/11 world. Yet, despite this, Obama has reached out to the public more than many of his recent predecessors, through town hall style public forums and his embrace of social media. He has held virtual public meetings through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube which have given average Americans a chance to ask him questions and air their grievances. This hardly speaks to a president content to wallow away his time in a lofty perch surrounded by admirers.

      While it is all too enticing to accept any and all criticism of the incumbent, especially during an election year, doing so out of context, without comparison to even recent history only serves to fill the well of misinformation. It’s a disservice to voters and does nothing to further the debate of substantive matters. It’s a distraction whose intent is to do nothing more than sensationalize and mislead.


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23 Responses to ““Jetting Around” Obama’s Vacation Record”

  1. I think you bring up the most important point surrounding this and that is Mitt Romney trying to make Obama look out of touch. Romney has to fight the reality of the things he (and his wife) have said that make him look out of touch and he is just trying to balance that bad percecption out as much as possible. Funny to watch but at the same time ridiculous when looking at the facts.

    • I wholeheartedly agree. He will have quite a fight against reality and himself really just to find some sort of general election balance. I’ve got another post in the works talking about that very thing. Romney’s his own worst enemy.

  2. Why you gotta tell the TRUTH like that?!! THANK YOU!

  3. Reblogged this on The ObamaCrat.Com™ and commented:
    Read this all you haters….read and then comprehend if that is at all possible. Thank you “Mashed Potato Bulletin”.

  4. all these are 2 term vacation records. It is only 31 months sofar……

    • Alien> Thank you for commenting but I think you may have just skimmed the information and missed this part;

      “So far, President Obama has taken 61 vacation days after 31 months in office. At this point in their presidencies, George W. Bush had spent 180 days at his ranch where his staff often joined him for meetings. And Ronald Reagan had taken 112 vacation days at his ranch.”

      These numbers reflect the same point in each of these presidencies. It’s not comparing full terms. In this post I make clear where I am making a direct comparison between cooresponding timeframes and when I am showing the full term numbers. Showing the full totals of those president such as Reagan and Bush illustrates how far LESS vacation time Obama is taking and has a long way to go before even meeting them halfway.

  5. Here’s one thing the last six presidents have in common regarding vacations – the opposition is the one who complains, but then backs their guy.

  6. I’d worry if someone in such a pressurised job were not taking time off.

  7. IMHO… I don’t care who is in office. Damn it, they’re POTUS. They deserve the vacation time, and a lot more than I get. And if it costs a few cool million, then it does. Especially with Obama… there are a lot of haters out there and would love to do something not so nice to him and/or his family.

    I wouldn’t want that job for all the vacation time in the world, nor amount spent.

    • I don’t think anyone in the general public comprehends the stresses involved in the job of the President. I doubt even the candidates running for the position, especially those this year, understand what it actually takes. I doubt GW had a realistic view of it. That’s why he was gone for so long during his presidency.

      I can’t say I’d want that job either 🙂

  8. i agree that it is a stressful job and any president deserves vacation time. where i would disagree however, is the cost of said vacation. the staff cost may be the same as regards their salaries but did the taxpayer pay for lodging when bush stayed at his ranch or reagan his ranch? lodging and meal costs are exorbitant for obama’s vacations as well as additional fuel costs particularly when the obama’s take separate planes to go to the same place. it is especially glaring coming from a president who travels the country preaching shared sacrifice.

    • Randy> I’d say the cost of Obama’s vacations have not been beyond those of any others. While lodging at GW’s ranch may not have been a per day thing like a hotel or other lodging may have been it would still have been necessary to outfit the ranch for the various security and other needs of a sitting president which is not cheap especially when he had a main residence already established for those purposes, the White House.

      Before judging Obama’s vacation costs it’d be worth considering the source of those estimates. Those that have come out have been shown to be overestimates or outright false as was the claims made by Michelle Bachmann. I did expand on the costs in the 4th paragraph of this post. It’s worth noting also how little we heard from the Right overall about the vacationing Republican presidents as compared to the outrage heard about Obama’s. It speaks more to a “Do as I say not as I do” mentality. This whole thing is reminiscent of Newt Gingrich’s attacks on Bill Clinton for the president’s extramarital activities while he, himself, was cheating on his own wife. Had this been a Republican president we wouldn’t have heard a sound from that side, as we witnessed under Bush but when Obama takes vacation it’s all of a sudden reprehensible. It really is hypocritical and overly disingenuous. Obama’s vacation issue is not as “glaring” when one is able to get beyond the biased editorials from the opposite side of the aisle and realize it is not an issue at all.

      Thanks for the comment.

  9. Hey have you tried thinking about this?? IT’S NOT ABOUT THE TIME HE’S TAKING FOR VACATION, IT’S ABOUT THE TAXPAYER MONEY HE’S CARELESSLY SPENDING. You fucking idiots. How much money could Bush (both) and Reagan possibly spend ON THEIR RANCH’S at the taxpayers expense? Oh and Bush worked from home most of that time you fools.


    • Nicole> Sorry for the delay but I wasn’t notified about your comment. I did address this in my post but as far as how much money taxpayers could possibly pay by Reagan and Bush at their ranches. Well, both ranches had to be outfitted for security as any other location would have to be, it would cost more because of the elongated stays those presidents had because essentially they would have to relocate the inner workings of the White House to those ranches because they stayed there so long. And it’s also worth noting that Obama pays for his own accommodations while on vacation but the travel would be the same for any other president and their families.

      So, I’m sorry but I can’t agree with you that we are “ignoring the details of the matter.”

  10. Bush spent 1020 days on vacation during his 8 years in office. Almost 3 Full Years! More than any President since the 1920’s

    In 2005, Bush took the longest single vacation — 5 weeks — of any President in 36 years. President Bush spent 32% of his presidency on vacation.

    Of the 77 total “vacation” trips the former president made to his Texas ranch while in office, nine of them — all or part of 69 days — came during his first year as president in 2001. Bush made 25 trips — a total of 78 days — to Camp David in 2001. Holy 9/11!

    Bush spent 487 days at Camp David, 490 days at his Crawford ranch, and 43 days in Kennebunkport.

    At 1,020 days, Bush was close to being on vacation more days than President John F. Kennedy’s total days in office (1,036).

    Presidents Clinton and Carter vacationed the least of any of the last seven chief executives.




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