Just because he's president doesn't mean he doesn't enjoy lying by the pool like the rest of us, and it certainly doesn't mean he doesn't need the rest. President Obama has one of the most stressful jobs on the planet, and even when he does take a holiday he's making calls, holding briefings, and now even taking breaks from his breaks to deal with urgent matters. Nevertheless, critics love to vacation-shame Obama, reasoning that there are significant ongoing crises all over the world, and why isn't he dealing with them?
The president's job may never be done, but given the overwhelming medical evidence in support of vacations, trust us — you want Obama to leave his office once in a while. After mounting criticism and pressure, Obama has taken a hiatus from his Martha's Vineyard vacation to fly back to Washington on Sunday night in order to meet with advisers on the U.S. military operations in Iraq and the civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.
And while critics focus on images of the president on the putting green or riding bikes, Obama has also taken the time to make an official statement on both issues from Martha's Vineyard.
Obama's trip to the posh resort island has been slammed by several political pundits in the last week. The Washington Post's Dana Milbank wrote an op-ed last week titled "Obama Vacations as the World Burns," commenting that the president's decision to go on break 36 hours after announcing airstrikes in Iraq suggests a detached commander-in-chief who might be breaking his own "don't do stupid sh*t" doctrine.
Former Arkansas governor and talk show host Mike Huckabee also lambasted the president on his show, Huckabee, for choosing to go on vacation while violence rages in ISIS and Gaza and "millions of Americans don't have enough money for a minor league baseball ticket." He added sarcastically:
I've been watching our federal government in Washington lately, and by gosh, I realize I'm a sucker. I'm working long hours and long days to pay for the people in Washington to take a long vacation. I've been asked if I'll make another run at the presidency, and I've concluded that it might be a nice reprise from the kind of hours I'm putting in now
So has the president been taking an inappropriate amount of time off, like his critics suggest? Not exactly. CBS News's Mark Knoller broke down the hard numbers and compared Obama's vacation time with George W. Bush's. According to Knoller's numbers, Obama has taken 129 vacation days since taking office in 2009 while Bush took 349. Obama has taken 20 trips, as opposed to Bush's 58.
Those numbers aren't the only hard evidence Obama's critics need to take in. After countless studies, there is a clear consensus: Vacations are important for your overall health. One study showed the correlation between vacations and a reduced risk of heart disease, while another reported on the importance of recharging yourself by taking a break from your work and normal life, and others show the clear connection between vacations and increased productivity at work.
Regardless of these benefits, you can't argue that vacations reduce stress, and who wants a stressed-out president making crucial decisions on foreign and domestic policy? I mean, would you want a bomb squad technician to do his job tired and cranky?