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Should We Criticize Obama for Vacations and Parties?

Does every tragedy require our sadness?

by
Walter Hudson

Bio

August 13, 2014 - 11:51 pm

Lest we forget, President George W. Bush endured a fair amount of criticism for going on vacation while <fill in the bank crisis> raged somewhere in the world. It’s a common refrain for critics of any given president to lament any breaks taken.

Most recently, some folks are up-in-arms over President Obama attending a birthday party while the situation in Missouri deteriorates. From The Blaze:

The president was slammed by his critics for attending the lavish party as unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, seemingly neared a boiling point as police and protesters clashed for the fourth night in a row following the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Are these critics suggesting a riot in Missouri should cancel someone’s birthday party? How should the president intervene? What role does the chief executive of the United States have in a law enforcement matter in Missouri?

In this example, we happen to be considering the president. But there’s a broader principle in play which applies to all of us. What claim does someone else’s tragedy have upon your happiness? Do we rob something from a mother in grief over the loss of her son when we happily take ours to the zoo? What’s the appropriate level of general misery which ought to be enforced, lest someone feel alienated by the happiness of others?

It’s the spiritual manifestation of the same moral argument we tackle in the political discourse. Someone else needs something – healthcare, a job, housing – and we’re expected to provide it. Just as such claims are made on an individual’s property, so are they made on an individual’s mood. You should care about what I care about. You should be sad, because I’m sad. You should refrain from laughing while I cry.

It’s entirely legitimate to criticize someone for indulging at the expense of vital responsibilities. To the extent Obama has neglected his job, you can build a case against his vacations. But this idea that he or any person should not enjoy life while others languish in misery proves as immoral as any have-not claim upon the lives of haves.

(Today’s Fightin Words podcast is on this topic available here. 9:26 minutes long; 9.06 MB file size. Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

Walter Hudson advocates for individual rights, serving on the boards of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota, Minnesota Majority and the Minority Liberty Alliance. He maintains a blog and daily podcast entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of conservative Minnesotan commentary, and regularly appears on the Twin Cities News Talk Weekend Roundtable on KTCN AM 1130. Follow his work via Twitter and Facebook.
All Comments   (8)
All Comments   (8)
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I think putting too much emphasis on Obama's recreation is petty.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not when I'm paying for it.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
It really must be pointed out that at least the majority of Bush's "vacations" were really more a change of venue /take care of things that needed to be taken care of at his ranch -type thing rather than an actual drop-all-work vacation, as this president is doing.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
>>...the majority of Bush's "vacations" were really more a change of venue /take care of things that needed to be taken care of at his ranch -type thing rather than an actual drop-all-work vacation, as this president is doing.
Change of venue vs. cavort. He seems unserious in any context, what does he stand for? I don't know, and I doubt too many others know either. He seems to stand for personal pleasure.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Show me one thing that Obama has broken a sweat over in 6 years. Then we cut him slack.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Don't forget that this man was partying at a fundraiser in Vegas the day after our men were killed in Benghazi.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
The country expects leadership from its president when things are going wrong, much as a small child looks to his father during a bad storm and says, "Dad, are we gonna be ok?" Surely the president can make decisions and keep an eye on a situation while away from the WH. But your argument applies to ordinary folks - the president provides a sense of gravitas when he focuses on the problems of an area. As far as taking action, I lived through some times in the US when the president had to act on the turn of a dime as a situation went from local to possibly national very quickly. *I*, living in Indiana, don't owe the people of Fergeson anything more than prayers and some thought as to how to stop/prevent such situations in the future. The president owes them much more, simply because he is the president.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bush went on "vacation" to his ranch in Texas, which was virtually White House II.

If that needs clarification, ask your kindergarten teacher.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
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