On Thursday, President Obama and his family departed Washington for Martha's Vineyard and a 10-day vacation. Congress adjourned August 8 for its monthlong recess only after passing the last-minute debt deal. August is a notoriously slow month in Washington, with most media attention this year focused on the campaign trail of the Republican 2012 presidential candidates. Nevertheless, many criticized Obama’s vacation—especially since Martha's Vineyard is an enclave of wealth and prosperity—while national unemployment remains at a staggering 9.1 percent. However, as Ken Walsh points out, GOP predecessors George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan had accumulated 180 and 112 vacation days, respectively, by this point in their terms. By the end of his holiday, Obama will have taken 71 vacation days. (Democrat Bill Clinton had taken only 28 days by this point of his presidency.) Susan Milligan defends Obama’s need for a break. She argues:
For presidents—especially the recent ones, who have undergone extreme stress from events ranging from 9-11 to the financial meltdowns—a vacation is not just a deserved break, it's an absolute necessity.
Meanwhile, Mary Kate Cary asserts that Obama should have at least presented a job plan before jetting off to his ritzy vacation. Whether he deserves it or not, Obama's summer break might be bad for his re-election effort. Warns Ken Walsh: Obama should be wary of repeating the mistakes of the last one-term president, George H.W. Bush, who vacationed in Kennebunkport, Maine, in similar times of national economic woe.
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