Trump slammed as ‘lazy’ for 17-day holiday

Time off: Trump played golf six times in his first month as president. © Getty

On Saturday Donald Trump jetted off to his golf resort in New Jersey for a 17-day break. His critics accuse him of shirking, but should we be more relaxed about politicians going on holiday?

Every August, a curious hush descends on Washington, DC. At this time every year, the army of politicians, diplomats and civil servants who inhabit the city flee its infamous summer humidity.

But Donald Trump’s summer break is hardly brief. On Saturday he embarked on a 17-day holiday at his private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

His aides are billing it as a “working vacation” and Trump has been joined by his newly-appointed chief of staff, John F. Kelly. With situations in North Korea and Venezuela becoming more and more critical, the president is unlikely to be able to rest completely.

Inevitably, however, a cursory search through Trump’s prior statements reveals an uncharitable attitude towards powerful people going on holiday.

In August 2011 he tweeted: “@BarackObama played golf yesterday. Now he heads to a 10 day vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. Nice work ethic.” Critics have pointed out that Trump’s 17-day holiday is nearly twice as long as the one Obama took in August during his first year.

Writing in his 2004 book, Think Like a Billionaire, Trump said “Don’t take vacations. What’s the point? If you’re not enjoying your work, you’re in the wrong job.”

But Trump has changed his tune, taking 11 such “working” vacations before this month to Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, Florida, as well as to New Jersey.

A time did exist when presidents could truly get away, says historian Robert Dallek. Franklin D. Roosevelt, for example, would go on sea voyages “because he was so stressed and burdened by all the demands on him.” Now, according to Douglas Brinkley: “There’s no escaping the public eye.”

The USA is the only advanced nation which does not mandate paid leave. Workers in most European countries are given at least 20 days paid leave. Most Americans get only two weeks off, but 54% of workers ended 2016 with spare days of unused time off. Two thirds say they continue to work while on holiday.

Should such a hard-working population put up with Trump going away for 17 days?

Working out

“This is blatant hypocrisy,” say many of Trump’s critics. Being president of the United States is the single most important job in the world. It is one that requires a person’s full attention. Trump is currently mired in tense situations both at home and abroad. If you are playing golf, you cannot run the country.

“But Trump does not run the country,” reply others. The USA is a free society that runs itself. Presidents age quickly in office, and it is common sense to see that Trump will function better if he relaxes from time to time. Everyone knows this from personal experience. And perhaps we could all do with taking a break from politics for a while.

You Decide

  1. Is Donald Trump right to take a 17-day holiday?
  2. Do you think you get enough holiday?

Activities

  1. List the five things you think are most important about going on holiday.
  2. Write a short story on the theme “escape”.

Some People Say...

“A bit less Trump is no bad thing.”

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Donald Trump is taking his first official holiday as US president. He is going to his own private golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, for 17 days. He has previously spent a lot of time at his resort in Palm Beach, Florida, where he wrote his inauguration speech. Trump has previously been critical of politicians for taking too much time off.
What do we not know?
How much work Trump will really do on holiday. Most American politicians take time off in August, so there are not going to be any wrangles over Obamacare or the wall to distract him. However, with the situation in North Korea becoming more tense, Trump may find that he plays rather less golf than he would like.

Word Watch

Martha’s Vineyard
An island located to the south of Cape Cod in Massachussets. It is best known for its affluence and the number of famous people who spend the summer there. As well as Obama, Bill Clinton made it a favourite destination.
Mar-a-Lago
Trump purchased the Florida resort in 1985, putting his then-wife Ivana in charge of running it. The Trumps have private quarters in a closed-off area of the house and grounds. Trump refers to Mar-a-Lago as “the Southern White House”.
Douglas Brinkley
An American presidential historian who has written books on the Roosevelts, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy.
54%
According to the US Travel Association’s Project Time Off study.
Two thirds
According to jobs site Glassdoor.

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