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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Unless He's Got His Laptop Instead of A 9-Iron...

Yesterday, President Bush announced that he would spend the next five weeks at his ranch in Texas on, what the White House is calling a "working vacation". We're all familiar with the flimsy excuses that Bush uses to escape for some R&R; immediately after his inauguration in 2001, Bush, troubled by the stem cell debate, went to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, ostensibly "to think" on this issue (I believe that was a quote he made in Michael Moore's Farenheit 9/11, but I can't find it quoted in any news stories). Bush's vacation this year will mark Dubya's achievement of a dubious honour: he will have just broken Reagen's record for vacation days away from the White House. Worried that Bush might be out of touch from the political pulse of America in a place with $5 haircuts and no groceries? At least he's got a fax machine. Said Bush in 2001, "I'm getting a lot done. [...] you don't have to be in Washington to work; it's amazing what can happen with telephones and faxes." Bush was getting daily intelligence reports every morning, White House officials said when Bush took his annual trips down to the Crawford ranch, so there's nothing wrong with the White House moving to Texas, is there? Well, then again, the memo that was titled something obnoxious like "Osama Bin Laden will attack the US this year" was supposed to have been read the month that Bush was "working" in Texas in August of 2001. Nice to see he's really on the ball down there, in between hunting gophers and golfing. Also today, the AP is reporting that Bush is using his ranch as a place for diplomatic gatherings, treating foreign officials to "down home" Texas culture and cuisine, such as BBQ and fried catfish. Not that there's anything wrong with those dishes, but this treatment of diplomats, ambassadors and international leaders as casual friends rather than as dignitaries might be part of the reason that we have such terrible foreign relations. It might seem like something unimportant, but Bush's approach towards diplomacy may actually be cultivating a lack of respect rather than an establishment of friendship. And besides, not every foreign official is going to appreciate pork ribs, and not just for social reasons. Meanwhile, I'm concerned that President Bush feels no qualms about running off to Crawford when there are so many things he could be doing in the White House. Bush's second term goals are actually taking steps backwards, marked with failure after failure. When normal people consider taking time off from work, they do so when their vacation will least affect business. If the company's about to implode, any reasonable CEO would stick around to try to navigate it to safety, not bail like a rat fleeing a sinking ship. Why does Bush think getting his Social Security plans (however misguided) off the ground is less important than duck-hunting (or whatever the hell it is he does at his horse-less ranch)? CNN political commentator Paul Begala and others have called criticizing Bush's vacation plans a cheap potshot, but I think it's pretty valid to be concerned about the leader of the Free World running off for a month-long holiday, while the nation is embroiled in bitter conflicts overseas and the economy is in so much peril at home. Hell, Clinton took similar vacations to Martha's Vineyard while he was president, and you would've heard the same critiques from me then. Bottom line, a president only has four-years in office with which to keep the nation afloat and maybe even better everday life for the average citizen. He was elected to work, not flounce around like some kind of dainty, Paris Hilton-wannabe socialite sunbathing on Laguna Beach. If I wanted an idle boy-king, I'd go to Britain, where useless monarchistic figureheads are the norm.

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