In the 1983 movie "Vacation," Chevy Chase stars as Clark Griswold, an all-American family man who decides to take his family on an unforgettable cross-country vacation.
Just about everything goes wrong from there on, but, believe it or not, many politicians could learn the Griswolds.
Michelle Obama found out what happens when you decide to take a vacation abroad. She and her daughter Sasha took a girl’s trip to Spain. Nobody can deny the first lady deserves to kick back and take a break. But Europe? Clark Griswold knew that there was so much to see in the U.S.A. And little Sasha would no doubt be glad to skip the meeting with the King of Spain and instead enjoy a wild day at a real life equivalent of Wally World.
Nonetheless, the first lady heard what was in some cases criticism that was a bit over the top for giving her husband a bachelor birthday weekend.
President Obama enjoyed a round of golf on Saturday, and then joined a bunch of NBA stars to shoot hoops in front of wounded vets. The shoot-around was followed by a barbecue for Lebron James and company at the White House. Yes, that Lebron James. The most hated man outside of Miami. The White House made sure to mention that the BBQ featured shrimp from the waters of the Gulf.
Remember, the President was criticized earlier in the year for going to Maine for a holiday after asking Americans to visit the Gulf.
The truth is, Presidents can’t win when it comes to vacations. George W. Bush was regularly roasted for supposedly spending too much time at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.
Ronald Reagan would head to his California ranch, but made sure photographers always got a good shot of our oldest Commander-in-Chief laboring in the sun, chopping wood. And then of course there were the shots of the 40th President riding his horse, looking like the movie star he once was.
Bill Clinton was knocked for the vacations he provided for his friends in the Lincoln bedroom.
Michelle Obama is not the first First Lady to take the heat. Nancy Reagan was regularly lambasted for helping stage a so-called Imperial Presidency, throwing lavish dinner parties for her Hollywood friends. Hillary Clinton took fire on just about every front.
The only exception to the rule in recent years has been Laura Bush, who was left alone for a simple reason: She mostly kept a very low profile, and when she did step up, it was to participate in traditional First Lady roles.
Local politicians are not immune from the prying eyes of the press. Mayor Michael Bloomberg simply won’t say when he is jetting off to his home in Bermuda.
And I find some public servants who won’t even utter the word "vacation," lest they face the wrath of families that can barely pay their bills.
But everyone deserves time off.
So when it comes to vacations, it’s probably best to heed the wisdom of that political genius, Clark Griswold: "I asked my kids where do they want to go for their family vacation, and you know what they said? They said ‘Wally World, Dad, Wally World.’"