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.
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On Monday, the first trading day after Standard & Poor's downgraded its rating of US Treasury debts, Obama made public remarks designed to calm a diving stock market. For whatever reason – perhaps the president's manner, his message, or the absence of concrete new policies – stocks losses worsened as he spoke.Skip to next paragraph
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Making more public remarks aimed at financial markets, without a different message, could be counterproductive, Professor Schmuhl says. "He runs a danger of not being listened to when it is important."
Obama's main message earlier this week was that the US economy still maintains bright potential, but that needed fiscal reforms are held up by "a lack of political will in Washington."
On Thursday, during a Michigan appearance focused on clean cars, the president amped up that theme.
"There is nothing wrong with our country. There is something wrong with our politics," Obama said. Seeking to cast himself as aligned with the frustrations of voters outside the nation's capital, he went on to lament "the worst kind of partisanship, the worst kind of gridlock" in recent bipartisan talks over public debt and deficits.
That very gridlock, some observers say, could mean that a vacation is actually the best thing now for Washington politicians. The recent debt-ceiling negotiations tested the patience of everyone involved, from the White House to both parties in Congress. A break now could help both parties clear the mental air for a scheduled second round of fiscal reform talks.
The public won't necessarily view the pols in a worse light.
According to a recent poll, "82 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Congress doing," says Amy Bree Becker, a political communications expert at Towson University in Maryland. "It's almost like the American people need a vacation from Congress."
Taking vacation time can be a balancing act for any president.
Getting away can be as healthy for them as for anyone else, but sometimes the demands of the job intervene in unexpected ways. For years, presidents have cancelled vacations or cut them short because of events in Washington or beyond. President Bush came off holiday early – although not early enough, in hindsight – after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.
"Obama is seen as being much more responsive [than Bush] when something like that happens," Professor Becker says.
The president has also taken some hits for the place he has chosen. Martha's Vineyard is viewed by many as a destination for the elite, perhaps not the ideal public-relations move at a time of high unemployment.
But like Mr. Clinton, Obama doesn't have his own ranch or seashore home for a natural retreat, as the Bushes and President Reagan had.