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VICTOR JOECKS: Let politicians vacation in peace

There’s a problem with President Joe Biden’s vacation schedule. It’s too short.

Democrats pounced on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ supposed disappearance after Christmas. Turns out he was accompanying his wife to cancer treatments. Classy.

It’s time to recognize that attacking politicians for taking time off is generally misguided.

After Christmas, Biden took a vacation, returning to Delaware yet again. While he was away, omicron cases surged. Testing capacity was strained and at-home coronavirus tests were hard to find.

“Joe Biden has now been to Delaware 31 times since he took office,” the official GOP account tweeted. “Americans are struggling to make ends meet and he is on vacation.”

Nor was it the first time that Republican officials hit Biden over his vacation plans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., tweeted this in November: “Dear President Biden, while you are in Nantucket, enjoying your meals at a billionaire’s compound, here are the prices that Americans are paying for their Thanksgiving dinner — the most expensive one in history.”

Criticizing a politician’s recreation habits is a bipartisan affair.

In March 2020, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. went after Donald Trump for not being in the Situation Room as the pandemic started. “Donald Trump was at a Florida golf resort hanging out with the billionaire boys club in the midst of a global epidemic,” he said. In September 2020, Democrats hit Trump for golfing while virus cases rose.

Opponents criticized Barack Obama and even Dwight Eisenhower for golfing, too. The Mondale campaign tried to make an issue of Ronald Reagan’s preference for being at his California ranch.

The goal of these barbs is to give voters the impression that the president is lazy, while enjoying perks unavailable to the working class.

This is a lame line of attack.

Most obviously, people need to rest. No, that’s not a backhanded crack at Biden’s age or verbal miscues. Just an observation and hardly a new one. There’s a biblical commandment to not work one day a week. Even God rested after creating the world. Most people come back from time off with more energy.

Plus, presidents or governors are never off. If something goes wrong, they’re back on the clock. If they work better in a more familiar environment, let them work from there.

There’s sometimes this impression that if the chief executive isn’t present, work isn’t happening. It’s most often trotted out when a Republican leader isn’t present after a natural disaster. Think: George W. Bush and Hurricane Katrina.

But Biden isn’t personally creating test kits. His mistake came when he didn’t order more tests months ago despite an entirely predictable winter surge. Or he could have encouraged only people in high-risk groups and the symptomatic to test. Alas.

The best reason, however, for Republicans to cheer Biden’s vacations is that he’s terrible at his job. The less he does, the better.

Contrast this with DeSantis. The Washington Post ran a long piece headlined, “As Florida shatters its record for new coronavirus cases, Democrats ask, ‘Where is Ron DeSantis?’ ” The national media churned out a breathless string of reports on the supposedly MIA governor. Ironically, they showed no comparable concern while Biden was literally on vacation.

Turns out, DeSantis was in the office between Christmas and New Year’s Day, even if he didn’t hold a news conference. While Democrats accused him of being missing, he was also accompanying his wife to her breast cancer treatments.

Now, pointing out hypocrisy revealed by where a politician vacations is a different matter. It’s perfectly fair to highlight when a lockdown-supporting Democrat vacations in Florida, despite — or because of — its lack of restrictions.

But otherwise, let politicians vacation in peace.

Contact Victor Joecks at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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