Saturday, October 03, 2009


At the end of the Presidency of George W. Bush, CBS News encapsulated what is perhaps the single greatest element of that Presidency’s disgrace. Here’s the description: “According to CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller, today's trip marks Mr. Bush's 149th visit to the presidential retreat [Camp David]. The planned three-day stay, during which the president is being joined by family and former and current aides, will bring his total time spent at Camp David to all or part of 487 days. Yes, that's 487 days. And Camp David is not even where the president has spent the most time when not at the White House: Knoller reports that Mr. Bush has made 77 visits to his ranch in Crawford during his presidency, and spent all or part of 490 days there.”

That’s 977 days – or more than a third of his Presidency -- spent in those two vacation spots alone. Frankly, the number is mind-boggling. I always thought the job of President was a demanding one, yet Bush made it look like something any of us could handle, assuming we don’t mind if the world suffers the consequences.

To us Democrats, Bush’s basic apathy toward his duties as President came to be symbolized by one activity: clearing brush. This was Bush’s own description of how he enjoyed spending some of his time at the ranch in Crawford. Perhaps Bush found it to be cathartic, for surely even a lazy, party animal like him would have found his 5 1/3 years in the White House to be stressful. Personally, the idea of hanging out in West Hell-hole Texas, slashing through weeds sounds a lot less enjoyable than, say, flying to Paris (France, not Texas), Rome (Italy, not Georgia), or Copenhagen. I’ve been to Paris and Rome, and loved them both. But I’ve never been to Copenhagen. I’ve always wanted to know what ol’ Hans Christian Anderson saw in it that was so damned inspiring.

I’ve had Copenhagen on my mind this week for obvious reasons. But what’s anything but obvious is how best to characterize those Republicans in Congress and those pundits on Fox News who slammed President Obama for a one-day trip to the capital of Denmark. I can understand faulting him for encouraging Chicago to get the Olympics when the money could be spent differently, such as on social welfare programs. Needless to say, though, that wasn’t their complaint; these aren’t the types who typically pine much for such programs. The complaint, and I still can’t believe I’m saying this, is that Barack Obama decided to take one day off to fly to Europe at a time when more important things were happening at home. They couldn’t point to any great crisis -- just to the idea that the most important thing on the nation’s plate this past Friday was not whether to snatch the Olympics from Rio.

Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t recall these troglodytes whining when Obama’s predecessor took off month, after month, after month, after month, after month … ( I’d do that 32 times but my fingers were getting bored). So how can they look at themselves in the mirror after dumping on a President for a taking off on a single today? Yes, I know, he didn’t really “take off.” He did what has become de rigueur for national leaders who want their countries to host the Olympics – he made the requisite face-to-face appeal to the pompous decision-makers. I consider that official Government business. But let’s say I’m wrong, let’s look at that trip simply as a day off. Why should that subject him to abuse, if Bush’s 877 days off weren’t worthy of note? And … when it turned out that his appeal didn’t get the job done and a U.S. city wasn’t chosen to host the Olympics, why did the Fox News pundits feel free to get on TV to laugh their ample asses off at our defeat?

In fact, this all made me wonder, when we do play in Olympics during Obama’s Presidency, are the Fox types going to publicly announce that they are rooting against the American athletes, just like they rooted against the idea of America hosting the Games? I ask, because this particular brand of American patriotism known as the modern conservative movement is kind of confusing to me. If I wasn’t so diplomatic, I’d characterize these pundits and Congressmen as hypocritical, petty, unpatriotic ... Oh never mind. There are so many words that can be used for these people, and none is a compliment. Maybe we should stick with “enigmatic.” That sounds benign enough. And frankly, I’m almost beginning to feel sorry for these clowns. They’re so blinded by their resentment toward Obama and his staff that they don’t even know how to assume an aura of sanity.

Face it guys, Barack is playing for your team. He’s even leading your team. If you see him strike out, then laugh all you want. But please, don’t do it in public. It makes you look like you’re rooting for the other guys, whoever, wherever, and whatever they might be.

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