Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A Working Vacation?

Today, President Bush has announced that he will cut short his four-week vacation to return to Washington to personally oversee the relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Now, of course, I realize that the return to Washington is a symbolic move--and it amounts to little actual shortening of his vacation, as he was due to return in two days anyway. But, the claim that he needs to be in Washington in order to oversee federal efforts belies the claims of the Administration and its supporters that there is no danger in the President--the most-vacationing-president ever!--taking long breaks from his reportedly not-too-stringent work routine in DC. (Not to be confused with his very stringent work-out routines.) The President and his supporters have claimed that the President's presence in Crawford, his long bike-rides, his time spent clearing brush, etc., are insignificant, since of course he can lead the nation and the War on Terror no matter where he is. But, if this is the case, why oh why must he return to DC to lead hurricane cleanup efforts? Must he be in the offices of FEMA? Is his role in disaster relief more central than his role in defense or war or the economy or any of the other executive functions? Or is it just the case that when the President is in Crawford, there is no one in charge of the federal government (or at least not President Bush)? Either being in Washington is essential or it isn't but it can't be both.

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