Several Presidents Took Lumps For Their Vacations
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
The President's upcoming retreat has drawn sharp criticism and not just from his Republican opponents. Liberal columnist Colbert King wrote in the Washington Post, this is no time for the President to dwell in splendid seclusion among the rich and famous. What is he thinking?
BLOCK: Welcome to the program.
KENNETH WALSH: Thanks for having me.
BLOCK: And of course, this upcoming vacation for President Obama comes at a time of economic hardship. The criticism here is it sends the wrong message. The upticks on this are really bad.
WALSH: Most Americans are very understanding of the need of a President to get away and to take a break and to have a vacation. Where the problem comes for presidents is if they look like they're indulging themselves when the country is having hard times economically and that's exactly where President Obama is now.
BLOCK: There's also the risk, and we've seen this before, of a president being away on vacation and detached during a disaster. We saw this, of course, with President Bush after Hurricane Katrina. There was that image of him looking down from above as he flew over New Orleans.
WALSH: And of course, he didn't win reelection. Now, it wasn't just because of that, but it was part of a whole subtext that President Bush sort of was not as in tune with the problems of the country as he should be.
BLOCK: Kenneth Walsh, how far back does criticism of the presidential vacation go? What were you able to find?
WALSH: That's really the most dramatic example of a president being away on vacation for a very, very long time. As I said, I don't think anyone's ever going to reach that level that John Adams did.
BLOCK: Kenneth Walsh, good to talk to you. Thanks so much.
WALSH: Thank you.
BLOCK: Kenneth Walsh is chief White House correspondent with US News and World Report. His book is "From Mount Vernon to Crawford: A History of Presidents and Their Retreats."
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