Who's the real Scrooge here?

Who's the real Scrooge here?

by digby

I'm sure everyone remembers Cokie Roberts kvetching about President Obama having the audacity to take a vacation in his home state of Hawaii:
Roberts: ...going off this week I know his grandmother lives in Hawaii and I know Hawaii is a state, but it has the look of him going off to some sort of foreign, exotic place. He should be at Myrtle Beach if he's going to take a vacation at this time. I just think this is not the time to do that.
Hawaii is just too "foreign" for Real Americans. To the many millions of us who live on the west coast or in Hawaii, Myrtle Beach might as well be on the Black Sea. What's "foreign" to you Cokie isn't foreign to many Americans.

Now get a load of this from a Washington Times reporter recalling how the White House press corps always has to travel with the president but George W. Bush was jolly old Santa Claus and Barack Obama is an icky old scrooge:
In December, we never left Washington, D.C., until the day after Christmas. Never. Mr. Bush and his wife, Laura, would always depart the White House a few days before the holiday and hunker down at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland. After a few years, I asked a low-level White House staffer why.

I still remember what she said: "So all of us can be with our families on Christmas."

Who was "us"? Hundreds and hundreds of people, that's who. Sure, the reporters who covered the president, but also dozens and dozens on his staff, 100 Secret Service agents, maybe more, and all of those city cops required whenever the president's on the move in D.C.

For me, that one-day delay was huge. My kids were 6 and 8 years old when Mr. Bush took office. When he went home to Prairie Chapel that last time in 2009, my girl was driving, the boy was 6 foot 1. But in the meantime, I was home for eight Christmas mornings, playing Santa, stoking the fire, mixing up hot chocolates.

That was President Bush. And every year for the past five, I've thought about what that meant to me. (By the way, some years, I got holiday duty, which meant I was off to Waco, Texas, the day after Christmas. But once again, the Bush White House had us covered: A press plane flew out with the president, and back then, reporters could pay $100 per family member for the plane ride. So sometimes, the family went along. For the kids, it was an adventure; for me, well, we were all together.)

All that has changed with President Obama. No more press plane, for one. Reporters are on their own — so taking family is, say, $1,000 a pop. Not likely. And this president would never delay his trip to his island getaway. He's off every year well before Christmas. Hundreds and hundreds head off with him, leaving family behind.

No Christmas at home. Instead, the Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort. Nice, but not exactly home.

Those awful Obamas force the press corps to go to Hawaii in the middle of the winter. The humanity. And I'd guess they don't feel they could get away with having the taxpayers foot the bill for all the reporters' families to go with them as George W. Bush did. After all, there's no doubt that the Washington Times would dog them mercilessly if they tried it.

There's another little factoid that should be factored into the Bush and Obama family friendly policies toward the press:

Q: Is it true that George W. Bush took more vacation days than Barack Obama?

A: Yes. Before his two-week trip to Martha’s Vineyard in August, Obama’s count was 125 full or partial days and Bush’s total at the same point in his presidency was 407.
That's 13 months the White House press corps spent away from home attending to George W. Bush at the same point in his presidency. 13 months away from their kids, most of it spent in that hellhole at Crawford Texas.

And that's not all:
We last dealt with the who-took-more-vacation question in January 2010, at which point Obama had spent 26 days on “vacation” during his first year in office, fewer than the first year totals for Presidents Bush, George H.W. Bush or Ronald Reagan...

Bush’s total for his two terms in office is 533 days, which includes 490 at the ranch and the rest at Kennebunkport. For comparison’s sake, President Bill Clinton’s total is 174 days, and Reagan hit 390 (349 at his ranch and 41 in Palm Springs), according to Knoller.

Adding in Camp David visits would bring Obama’s total to date to 223 (that’s 83 days at Camp David) and Bush’s total for his entire time in office to 1,024 (491 days at the presidential retreat). Note that Obama still has more than two years in office to narrow the gap.
That's nearly 3 years the press corps spent with Bush on vacation during the 8 years of the Bush administration.

So please, let's not get carried away with the great family friendly policies of the Bush administration. If all you want is to be present for your family on Christmas morning then he was terrific. If you actually wanted to watch your kids grow up, be involved in the lives then he forced you to miss 3 years of their childhoods while he hung out at a faux ranch in a Texas desert so he could stage photo-ops in a ten gallon hat, his family compound in Kennebunkport or in retreat at Camp David.

Oh, and I'm fairly sure that some of their kids would love it if Mom or Dad arranged for them to be in Hawaii on Christmas too. It's really nice.