If you’re President Bush, the perception of your vacation is far more important than where you go and what you do.
This year, Bush is cutting his down time to only 10
days — the shortest summer break of his presidency — against the
backdrop of the Middle East in crisis, Baghdad beset by violence and
Cuba in flux.
They say the president doesn’t want to be in Crawford at his ranch when
the anniversary of Katrina comes up. I think that’s smart. Why allow a
bunch of undeserved criticism from last year’s five-week vacation, when
you can squeeze three or four times that much unfavorable press into a
mere ten days? And accomplish it worldwide.
The president, of course, is just as effective in Crawford as
Washington. Some pundits claim he would be equally effective from Dick
Cheney’s ‘undisclosed location,’ but that’s punditism, just another
rock thrown by the cheap-shot specialists. The facts are, that every
president travels with the full capabilities of the Oval Office and is
equally ready to nuke the world, as well as touch base with any person
on the planet (presuming that person is not on vacation).
Expensive, but possible. Cumbersome maybe, but not beyond the range of modern technology.
So this year, instead of taking the rap for hurricane Katrina
response, Bush can be char-broiled for being away while Lebanon is in
flames. Israel is up to its neck in alligators, but mountain-biking is
great this time of year. Baghdad is coming apart to the extent that the
commanding general admits there ‘may be a civil war going on’ and both
Iran and North Korea play while the cat is away, but even cats need
With all that turmoil, who needs a hurricane?
This president, who named as the highlight of his presidency ‘a day
fishing on his ranch lake,’ has gone fishing. He still hasn’t got a
clue. It isn’t where he is during a crisis that matters, it’s the perception
of his being involved with personal pleasures while the world burns.
Sleeping late while civilians die in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan is not an acceptable image. Playing with the dog and doing political fundraising while the American stew overflows the pot, is not hunky-dory.
The world didn’t really give a damn about Imelda Marcos, but they
couldn’t possibly accept the image of a woman who owned 1,500 pairs of
shoes while her country starved. The presidency, as Karl Rove should
certainly be able to convince his captive client, is about image.
That’s where John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan excelled; they were masters
The Washington Post breathlessly quotes Tony Snow,
a large number of GOP congressional seats in play and his party’s
ability to set the agenda in Congress in jeopardy, Snow said, Bush
wants to be sure to be on the road to help raise money and get his
message out in hopes of improving his approval ratings, which have been
abysmal for much of the past year.
another image the world doesn’t need; an American president, with
absolutely everything coming unraveled at his feet, out making campaign
appearances and raising money. And why is that a priority? In order to
keep control of a Congress that helped him make an absolute hash out of
a large part of the Middle East.
Again, according to Snow,
Bush is taking a
shorter break not because of criticism but because he has other things
to do, including campaigning for Republican candidates in the fall
elections, pushing for immigration reform and attending a family
wedding in Kennebunkport, Maine. He plans to be in Louisiana and
Mississippi on the Aug. 29 anniversary of Katrina and might return to
Crawford for two days after that.
Other things to do.
Lebanon and Iraq are on the Texas-sized barbecue and, before George
flips them over to make sure they’re ‘done’ on both sides, he’s got a
wedding to attend. Then, there’s the matter of pushing immigration
(along with 6,000 troops on the border) and scamming a few bucks to the
campaign coffers. These are all red-hot issues. Lebanon will hold (or
fold), Baghdad can’t really get any worse in a couple weeks and the
Iranians and North Koreans will just have to learn to understand Texas
According to Forbes,
White House spokesman Tony
Snow said Bush spent Friday clearing brush and riding his bike. He also
had his regular briefings and took a call from U.N. Secretary-General
Kofi Annan that lasted 15 minutes.
Hey, at least he took the call. Thank God he was able to work it in.
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