Just as criticism builds over President Barack Obama’s plan to spend the next week-and-a-half on Martha’s Vineyard while the economy flounders, the CBS Evening News came to his defense, suggesting he’s been a workaholic compared to his Republican predecessors.
While “Obama has taken 61 days of vacation so far,” anchor Scott Pelley noted over a photo montage of those he cited, “at this point in their presidencies, George W. Bush had spent 180 days at his ranch, where staff often joined him for meetings, and Ronald Reagan 112 days at his ranch. Among recent Presidents, Bill Clinton took the least time off -- 28 days.”
[UPDATE: Knoller tweeted, just past 8 AM EDT on Thursday, August 18, re his Obama count: “My count doesn't include his 20 visits to Camp David - covering all or part of 48 days.”]
Preceding Pelley’s vacation count provided by CBS’s White House reporter for radio, Mark Knoller, the newscast ran excepts from Anthony Mason’s interview with Obama conducted in Atkinson, Illinois for CBS’s Sunday Morning.
Instead of challenging Obama on the failure of his economic policies or pressing him to offer any solutions, Mason treated Obama as an economic prognosticator offering valuable insights – as if Obama would ever agree “we're in danger of another recession.” Mason’s questions aired on the CBS Evening News:
> I asked him today about the recent violent swings in the stock market and what message he thinks the markets are sending.
> Do you think we're in danger of another recession?
> The concern last week and the week before was that the market was saying we were closer to it than we thought, and that in fact the markets themselves might cause consumers to pull back and tip us into a recession.
> This has been a scary summer for a lot of people. The stock market, the economy is struggling. Should Congress be back in Washington? Should you be going on vacation?
Speaking of Obama interviews, as I tweeted Wednesday night, this was CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer’s final question to Obama as run on the August 16 Situation Room:
The last time you were elected, you got Sasha and Malia a cute little puppy, Bo. What are you going to get them the next time, if you're re-elected?
And while we are recalling Reagan’s time at his ranch, on Monday night I tweeted a photo of the table and chair Reagan used when he signed his big tax cut bill at Rancho del Cielo – an August vacation day when valuable work took place -- a picture I took with my BlackBerry back in February at the Young America’s Foundation’s Reagan Ranch Center:
Reagan signed Economic Recovery Act 30 years ago. Table he used 8/13/81, displayed @TheReaganRanch Santa Barbara
(Oh, and here’s a picture of me in front of Reagan’s ranch house taken during my trip to attend Reagan Centennial events when I was privileged to get an opportunity to spend nearly two hours touring Ronald Reagan’s mountain top retreat in the Santa Ynez mountains of Santa Barbara County, California.)
Back to the liberal bias – from the Wednesday, August 17 CBS Evening News:
SCOTT PELLEY: Good evening. A lot of economists say that with chronic unemployment, wild gyrations in the stock market, and Americans cutting back on spending, the odds of a second recession are growing. Today, at the end of his Midwest bus tour, we asked President Obama which way he thinks the economy is headed? Senior business correspondent Anthony Mason is in Illinois where he sat down with Mr. Obama this afternoon for the CBS News program Sunday Morning. Anthony?
ANTHONY MASON: Scott, the President said he was happy to be out of Washington and he looked it. He insisted that he's on a listening tour, not on a campaign swing. But in the three-day bus trip across Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois -- three states he carried in the last election -- the President has been given an earful about the economy. I asked him today about the recent violent swings in the stock market and what message he thinks the markets are sending.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: What I think the markets were reacting to is the fact that the economy has not grown as quick as it needs to. There have been a lot of headwinds -- the European debt crisis, Japan, high gas prices from the Arab spring -- and what a lot of folks are worried about is that the recovery that we have been on is stalling or not moving as quickly as it needs to.
MASON, TO OBAMA: Do you think we're in danger of another recession?
OBAMA: I don't think we're in danger of another recession, but we are in danger of not having a recovery that's fast enough to deal with what is a genuine unemployment crisis for a whole lot of folks out there and that's why we need to be doing more.
MASON: The concern last week and the week before was that the market was saying we were closer to it than we thought, and that in fact the markets themselves might cause consumers to pull back and tip us into a recession.
OBAMA: What is absolutely true is confidence matters. We should not have had any kind of brinksmanship around the debt sealing. I wish the Speaker had taken me up on the grand bargain to deal with our long-term debt and deficit. We still have the opportunity to fix that....
MASON: Later in the day, I caught up with the President again and asked him about his upcoming vacation.
MASON, TO OBAMA: This has been a scary summer for a lot of people.
MASON: The stock market, the economy is struggling.
MASON: Should Congress be back in Washington? Should you be going on vacation?
OBAMA: Well, no, because I think if all we're doing is the same posturing that we saw before the debt limit vote, that's not going to encourage anybody. That's going to discourage people. And the reason I'm out here is to remind people what the expectations of ordinary Americans are. In small towns like this and in big cities all across America, they are saying to their representatives, “stop playing the games and get something done.”
MASON: The President heads off for that vacation on Martha’s Vineyard tomorrow. The White House says he will offer a new jobs and economic growth plan after Labor Day, but the President did not offer any details today. Scott.
PELLEY: Anthony, I have to ask, where did do you that interview with all those wooden palettes behind the President?
MASON: We were actually across the street here, Scott, at what's called the Whiffles Hybrid Seed Corn plant, and we were literally surrounded by seed corn and palettes.
PELLEY: Thanks, Anthony. You'll see a lot more of Anthony's interview with the President this weekend on the Sunday Morning program.
As Anthony mentioned, the President is headed to Martha's Vineyard, the island off the coast of Massachusetts, and this is the place where he and his family will be staying. They'll be there for about ten days. There has been criticism of the President's vacation at this time so we asked White House correspondent Mark Knoller for a comparison. Mark says that Mr. Obama has taken 61 days of vacation so far. At this point in their presidencies, George W. Bush had spent 180 days at his ranch, where staff often joined him for meetings, and Ronald Reagan 112 days at his ranch. Among recent Presidents, Bill Clinton took the least time off -- 28 days.
Pelley then oddly pointed out how a Gallup poll question from back in March documented a decline in the percent of the public who see Obama as a “strong leader.”