Bob Schieffer's Commentary: Obama's Vacation

This commentary was part of "Washington Unplugged."

Unless you just got in from Mars you know that President Obama is on vacation this week.

The Presidency is a great job but if ever there was a job that's hard to get away from, the Presidency is it. That's why planning a presidential vacation is so delicate.

Bill Clinton was so worried about the political fall out from vacationing that his people actually ran polls to see where the public thought he ought to take time off.

When Gerald Ford went to Vail Colorado at Christmas time, his aides always stressed that it was a working vacation. One of the reasons I liked Ford was that when I asked him one day if he had come to Colorado to work and he said no, I came to ski.

Ford didn't worry about that sort of thing as much as some White House folk but the truth is presidential vacations can be a risky undertaking.

Just ask George Bush, there he was kicking back at his Texas ranch and along came Hurricane Katrina. His administration was never the same after the slow response to that disaster.

Americans didn't like it when his Dad held news conferences at the golf course while soldiers were preparing for war.

And during the presidential campaign in 2004, Republicans loved calling attention to those pictures of John Kerrey wind surfing, they thought it made him look elitist.

So perhaps President Obama doesn't deserve some profile in courage award for saying the purpose of his vacation is to relax but I'm glad he's being candid about it.

Even so, he shouldn't take it too far. I'd hold off on the wind surfing, croquet and for heaven's sake don't get caught in wearing those slacks with little whales on them.

Watch the commentary above, a debate on Kennedy's senate seat as well as an interview with Dan Balz on his new book "The Battle for America 2008" above. "Washington Unplugged" appears live on CBSNews.com each weekday at 12:30 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.




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