As the thermometer reached 106 in Washington, we couldn’t help but think of vacations.
And how, with an election four months out, certain plans are changing.
We had caught word of President Barack Obama’s plans to abandon what was becoming something of a tradition — the Martha’s Vineyard summer vacation for his family — just as Republican rival Mitt Romney was settling in for his summer vacation at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire last week.
After three years of vacations at a rented estate on Martha’s Vineyard, the Boston Globe noted last week, the day before the Fourth of July, the State Police detachment on the island had been told the president will not be coming this summer. Plus this: “Extensive bookings to house the president’s staff and security have been canceled by the White House travel office, and the 28-acre waterfront estate in Chilmark where the Obamas stayed the last three years has been sold to a British couple.”
A few days later, the day the government released a report showing unemployment holding at 8.2 percent in June — and at 8 percent and above for 41 consecutive months — Romney took a brief break from his family’s vacation, parking the jet skis and the speed boat, to call the jobless report “a kick in the gut” for Obama.
Romney fielded a couple of questions from the press, including one about the propriety of vacationing while the economy is struggling.
“You know I’m delighted to be able to take a vacation with my family,” Romney replied, `I think all Americas appreciate the memories they have with their children and their grandchildren I hope more Americans are able to take vacations. And if I’m president of the United States, I’m going to work very hard to make sure we have good jobs for all Americans who want good jobs and as part of a good job the capacity to take a vacation now and then with their loved ones.”
We thought about all of this today as reports arrived of Romney’s campaign fundraisers today in the Hamptons. The one that caught our eye was the New York Times’ report of Ted Conklin, owner of the American Hotel in Sag Habor, New York, and his rolled-down window comment on Obama while waiting to get into a fundraiser:
“He is a socialist. His idea is find a problem that doesn’t exist and get government to intervene,” Conklin said from inside a gold-colored Mercedes.
As the cars rolled up, Occupy Wall Street protestors assembled in the Hamptons.
Romney was holding a few fundraisers out there today, one at the home of Ronald Perelman, billionaire financier and chairman of Revlon, owner of the biggest estate in East Hampton, then at the Hamptons homes of Clifford Sobel, former U.S. ambassador to Brazil, and billionaire industrialist David Koch.
Our own Julie Bykowicz is on the scene today:.
About 75 protesters stormed the beach to make the 3/4 mile hike to David Koch’s house, she reports. They stood at the rear of the property shouting, “shame on you,” as a few party-goers peeked over the bluff, smiling. The protestors displayed a banner reading “Koch Kills.” A team of Secret Service stood watch. The protesters said they’d obtained permission from the mayor today to rally on the beach.
Yet for now, we’re thinking more about vacation.
And why the president called his off after 41 months of unemployment over 8 percent.
That 28-acre estate on the Vineyard may not provide the best optics for a president seeking re-election at a time when unemployment is 8-plus 41 months in — particularly one who is able to quietly chopper off to Camp David on these 100-plus weekends. As Romney suggested, “all Americans want good jobs and as part of a good job the capacity to take a vacation now and then with their loved ones.” It’s just the pictures they’ll keep to themselves.