Friday, August 28, 2009

Summer Vacation Spots

With President Obama on vacation this week, I thought we’d look at some past presidential vacations. I found this list of the Top 10 Presidential Vacation Spots. This article looked at how different presidents spent their vacation time. This article mentions the fact that while Eisenhower took vacations, it didn’t seem to help him much – he had heart attacks during two of them! They also have an article that talks about other world leader’s vacation picks – rather fun in itself!

This HNN article looked at presidential vacations as well. James Madison took a four month vacation after the War of 1812! John Adam spent 7 months on his farm during his presidency while Abigail was sick. Jimmy Carter took the least amount of vacation time – just 79 days, usually at home in Georgia.

This article looks at the symbolism in vacation choices:
Presidential vacations have long been fraught with symbolism, both positive and negative, according to Wilentz and other historians. Reagan, Lyndon B. Johnson and George W. Bush prized spending time on their ranches, projecting cowboy imagery in the process. But Bush also discovered the political perils of vacationing in August 2005, when he stayed in Texas as New Orleans residents pleaded for federal help in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The political importance of vacation destinations was cast into sharp focus prior to Clinton's 1996 reelection bid, when pollster Dick Morris told him that hobnobbing with celebrities on the Vineyard was bad for his image. Clinton agreed to Western, outdoor-style vacations in Wyoming before resuming his trips to Martha's Vineyard in 1997.

Picking when to vacation, where to do it and what to do while on it often takes on significance to the public:
"There's been a public significance to presidential vacations going back all the way to Lincoln, who went to the Soldier's Home in Washington during the Civil War," said Sean Wilentz, a Princeton University history professor and the author of "The Age of Reagan."

"You have to show the country that you are getting respite from the job, but also that you are still ever at the ready. It's a delicate balance."

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