Should Obama go on vacation while markets are so skittish?
Some say vacationing now sends the wrong message, while others say that presidents need breathers, too – and note that his Monday speech sent the Dow further downward.
President Obama's planned August vacation is still a week away, but a rough ride for global financial markets this week has already sparked discussion about his plans. Specifically, should Mr. Obama ditch his beach plans and focus on the economy?Skip to next paragraph
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There's something a bit unseemly, after all, about the idea of America's chief executive lounging on Martha's Vineyard when stock markets are tanking – especially when one of the reasons for investor concern is doubt about the ability of political leaders to resolve government-debt challenges in Europe and the US.
At the same time, the media buzz may be premature.
Pressure on the issue eased temporarily, at least, as the US stock market staged a strong upward bounce on Thursday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 423 points to close at 11,143, as investor fears about conditions in Europe – particularly France – eased.
Some political analysts say the idea of cancelling the vacation would be misguided, unless there's something specific the president expects to announce or achieve by staying in Washington.
"If he does decide to change his plans, he needs a definite reason," says Robert Schmuhl, a professor of American studies at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. "Otherwise you're in a situation where the vacation is cancelled, but nothing extraordinary happens."
If markets continue to stabilize, the views of vacation-spoiling pundits could be forgotten by next Thursday. That's when the Obama family expects to head to the Vineyard, the same island where they (and President Clinton before them) have had getaways in the past.
The vacation question came to the forefront Wednesday, when White House press secretary Jay Carney fielded a query on a day of steep stock-market declines. He said Obama won't be walking off the job during his time away. "The presidency travels with you," Mr. Carney said.
A parallel question in recent days has been whether Obama could do anything more about the markets in the near term – perhaps some public statement designed to reassure businesses and investors.