World Leader Trend Watch: Vacation at Your Own Risk
As Obama sets off for Martha's Vineyard, his counterparts shorten their vacations
On Thursday, President Obama sets sail for a nine-day vacation at his rented 28-acre estate in Martha's Vineyard. The left's already labeling the trip callous while the right's calling it "tone-deaf" in light of the high unemployment rate. The president's senior adviser David Axelrod is assuring the press his boss's holiday itinerary isn't even set in stone. "Look, the president's family is going on vacation," he said on Friday. "He's going to join them, if he can...." If he can? If the president cancels his vacation or cuts it short by even a day or two, then it's official: the world leader vacation is dead, or at least on the brink of demise. Witness the latest string of severed presidential and prime minister vacations amid political pressure and financial turmoil:
French President Nicolas Sarkozy Last week, Sarkozy cut his vacation in the French Riviera short amid concerns that Standard & Poor's planned to lower France's AAA credit rating. He ended his vacation abruptly on Wednesday "when he summoned key ministers for an emergency meeting as more analysts warned that France's debt rating could be cut," reports the International Business Times.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero Another European leader spooked by market concerns, Zapatero pushed back his vacation in the southern area of Andalusia one week to keep an eye on the whipsawing markets, reported Bloomberg on Sunday.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi Even Europe's most famous playboy shortened his jaunt to a villa on the island of Sardinia (only a two-night stay), so he could lobby for austerity measures necessary for European Central Bank aid, reported Bloomberg on Sunday.
Pretty Much Everyone in Britain Okay, this did get a pretty out of hand. At the apex of the London riots last week, Britain was sorely lacking in political leadership. "At the two critical moments when the authorities lost control," reports The Telegraph, "everyone was off duty and no one was in charge. In Haringey, the borough commander, Det Ch Supt Sandra Looby, was away. The Prime Minister, the Home Secretary, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Mayor of London, the mayor’s chief of staff and head of communications, the chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority, the head of the London Fire Brigade – they were all on holiday." You'd think they could coordinate, and spread out their schedules a little better, no?
We suppose the string of curtailed vacations raises a broader (and entirely serious) question: Is it just not okay for presidents and prime ministers to enjoy themselves anymore, or is the world in such bad shape that we can't afford them a few days off?