Updated August 20, 2016 to factor in current vacation figures and projections.
Let’s take a look at Obama and Bush vacations as conservatives are whining about the “Vacationer in Chief” now that Obama has wrapped up his annual time off.
President Obama and his family completed their annual vacation returning to the White House this Sunday and – once again – conservatives are up in arms about the “Vacationer in Chief.”
According to them, Rome is burning and the president has nothing better to do than play golf.
However, as Bloomberg reports: presidents don’t actually have the luxury of getting away from it all during vacations.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters last year before Obama departed on his two-week vacation at Martha’s Vineyard that:
As we always say, the president will be traveling to Massachusetts with an array of communications equipment and national security advisers and others to ensure that he has the capacity to make the kinds of decisions that are required for the commander-in-chief. If there’s a need for the president to return to the White House, it’s not a long flight from Martha’s Vineyard back to Washington, D.C.
Bloomberg adds that according to John Pitney, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College in California, presidential vacations have been drawing more scrutiny in recent decades, beginning with Ronald Reagan, who was accused of not spending enough time at work by Democrats.
Presidential vacations, particularly in the midst of international crisis, have resulted in criticism no matter which party is in office, according to Pitney.
That’s why even when presidents are on vacation the staff goes out of its way to show photographs of the president getting briefings.
Pitney goes on to note that social media and the instant nature of information through the internet encourages criticism, adding:
“In the age of Internet news, people need something to tweet about. Criticizing the president for taking vacation is one way to fill the Twitter vacuum.
However, setting all that aside, just how many vacations has Obama taken since he assumed office in January of 2009 and how does that compare to George W. Bush’s record?
Last December, CBS News reported that the number of vacation days President Obama has taken since the beginning of his presidency stood at 161 days. If you add the 28 days of vacation he has taken this year his total comes to 189 days. If you add his current vacation in Martha’s Vineyard to the mix that still puts him at under 200 days so far. Even if he took every day off the rest of his term in office that would only add an additional 153 days to his total – still placing him at less than half the vacation days of he predecessor.
However his predecessor, two-term President George W. Bush, took 879 days of vacation, including 77 trips to his Texas ranch according to a report by The Washington Post.
According to The Washington Post, “No modern president took less vacation than Jimmy Carter (79 days), while Ronald Reagan spent 335 days at his beloved California ranch.”