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Stay home for the holiday

Posted: January 5, 2012 11:05 a.m.
Updated: January 6, 2012 5:00 a.m.

During the Christmas season over the past three decades, presidents of the United States have shown admirable fiscal restraint as well as concern for their staffs when they’ve chosen their holiday schedules. Most have spent their Christmases either at the White House or nearby Camp David, the presidential retreat in the Maryland mountains just outside the District of Columbia. That has avoided expensive travel to faraway places and has allowed countless government staffers to spend time with their families rather than having to be on the road. Then along came President Obama, who has chosen to pack up -- at a cost of millions of dollars and much inconvenience to others -- and head to Hawaii for the holidays.

President and Mrs. Reagan spent seven of their eight Christmases at the White House. The first President Bush spent his four presidential yuletides at Camp David, as did the second President Bush with his eight years in office. In between, President Clinton spent six of his eight years at the White House, going to Hilton Head Island for the first and then immediately admitting it had been a mistake. He and Mrs. Clinton later spent one holiday in Sarajevo with troops who were stationed there during the Balkan War. But President Obama, who’s been in office for two Christmases, has spent both in Hawaii. For those who have never witnessed a presidential trip, it’s difficult to imagine the expense involved -- millions of dollars -- with dozens of Secret Service agents on the road as well as countless staffers who must accompany the president. And to boot, all those people must be away from their families over the special season.

President Obama is an astute politician, and the national media have given him a free ride on his seasonal vacation spending binges. His insistence on traveling makes a statement not only about his carefree attitude towards Uncle Sam’s wallet but also about his lack of concern for those who work for him.

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