Here’s a president doing what all presidents have done, exercising his prerogative to conduct foreign policy and diplomacy as well as vacationing with his family when time permits.
President Obama went to Northern Ireland to attend the G-8 summit. With the Middle East pot boiling over, do his critics actually believe that was a bad idea?
Meantime, Michelle Obama, Malia and Sasha were in Dublin, Ireland on an unofficial visit where they nonetheless made several public appearances. The first lady received a rousing reception at the “Riverdance” stage show and warm reviews in the Irish media.
The Bush family did the same thing. So did the Clintons, the first Bushes, the Reagans, the Carters and so on because presidents and first families represent all of us. It’s their duty to express our nation’s goodwill while visiting foreign countries.
Still, right wingers don’t think Obama should be vacationing. Really?
George W. Bush set the record for vacation time, 1,020 days, more than two full years of down time. In 2005, while Americans were dying in the pointless war he started in Iraq, Bush took an unprecedented five-week holiday.
There is nothing new or unusual about our presidents and their families flying on Air Force One, staying in luxury hotels commensurate with their status or requiring Secret Service protection when they journey to foreign lands.
But there are those who think this particular POTUS should fly coach, stay at Motel 6 and leave the Secret Service behind.
Sean Hannity whined about the “optics” of Obama and his family traveling overseas. The Fox News yapper never complained about optics in 2008 when the Bushes went to the Beijing Olympics while the economy was collapsing.
Radio loudmouth Mark Levin was less circumspect. “(I have) never seen a presidential family take so many trips … (Obama) doesn’t deny himself or his family a damn thing … (Obama is) on welfare; presidential welfare … Obama believes that this is his time to live like a king (and) his wife is the imperial first lady.”
Levin mouths what a lot of conservatives think. Obama has no business conducting foreign affairs, meeting with other world leaders, visiting Africa — where American support is crucial — or enjoying the perquisites of the office as every modern president has done. And if he does, Obama is taking something he doesn’t deserve or he hasn’t earned.
Conservatives would prefer Obama do what Republicans on Capitol Hill are doing: nothing.
But Obama is finally pushing back, recognizing the so-called “loyal opposition” won’t govern America as long as there’s a Democrat in the White House. So the president does what he can do, advancing American interests abroad.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt endured the same thing under similar circumstances:
“For nearly four years you have had an administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves,” declared Roosevelt in 1936. “We will keep our sleeves rolled up. We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace — business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. They are unanimous in their hate for me and I welcome their hatred.”
Obama derangement syndrome is manifested in many different ways, but the racially-tinged theme is always the same: Obama is illegitimate; he isn’t really president; “we” want “our” country back.
Republicans continue to pay a steep price for allowing right wing extremists to speak for them. Women, young people, African-Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, gays and other key voting constituencies are in full flight from the GOP.
Kevin Foley is a public relations executive, author and writer who lives in Kennesaw. .