Every time President Obama takes a vacation, like clockwork, Republicans respond, “In light of ______, how can Obama take a break at a time like this?”
The latest example comes by way of Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), the outgoing chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who apparently wants the president to stick around in response to the Sony Entertainment hack.
The Obama administration has concluded the cyberattack on Sony and subsequent threats are the work of North Korea.“This was a nation-state attack on the United States, and saying aloha and getting on an airplane and going to Hawaii is not the answer that really the world needs, let alone America,” Mr. Rogers said during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”
It’s all quite tiresome, for reasons that should be obvious.
1. The president brings his responsibilities with him. As the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee probably knows, Obama can – and quite possibly, will – respond to the recent developments during his family trip. The president’s work doesn’t really end when he departs the White House, and Rogers’ complaint only makes sense if Obama’s downtime necessarily leads to inaction. It doesn’t.
2. There’s always something. By Rogers’ reasoning, Obama can’t take a break when there’s a serious situation to deal with. But there’s always a serious situation to deal with. So long as the president can respond while away, it hardly seems worth complaining about.
3. Congress loves its free time. If Congress were genuinely concerned about “a nation-state attack on the United States,” assuming that’s what actually happened here, members could return to session to consider a response to the emergency. Indeed, Mike Rogers himself could help lead the way, demanding that elected lawmakers get right back to work immediately.
But as best as I can tell, that’s not Rogers’ argument. On the contrary, members of Congress will respond to the alleged North Korean offensive the same way it responded to developments in August, most of September, all of October, and most of November: by not going to work.
4. The double-standard is breathtaking. When Russia went to war with Georgia, George W. Bush was on vacation. When the Nigerian underwear bomber tried to blow up a plane over Michigan, Bush was on vacation (which he refused to cut short). When Hurricane Katrina hit, Bush was on vacation. After Bush launched an invasion of Iraq on a Thursday, he took a break at Camp David just 48 hours later.
There’s no record of Rogers, who was in Congress at the time, complaining about the Republican president’s frequent breaks in the midst of international crises.