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Finneran: The President’s Vacations

Friday, May 19, 2017


Donald Trump

Leave them alone.

All of them. They either had or have the world’s toughest job.

I call it much ado about something. That something is presidential vacations.

The loony Left is all lathered up about Donald Trump’s golfing schedule. The loony Right was all aghast at Barack Obama’s vacation schedule. The loony Left scolded George Bush for his Texas ranch getaways. The loony Right mocked Bill Clinton’s Martha’s Vineyard whirlwind photo-op holidays.

Why is it---beyond simple and blatant hypocrisy---that these political agitators go strangely silent when  one of their preferred candidates holds the office of President, after screaming at ear-splitting levels about the other party’s guy living it up at taxpayer expense? 

The cynic in me suggests that the nation is much better off when these guys are out of the White House and hanging out with family and friends. They tend to do less harm when they’re away from the office and Washington D.C. The citizen in me acknowledges that a ceaseless mental exhaustion comes attached to the office of President. Exhaustion in any endeavor leads to poor results. Exhaustion in a President can be outright dangerous. 

At the moment, no one seems able to hold a rational conversation about President Trump. His critics scream for impeachment while his supporters point to the media’s self-serving hysteria and obvious bias.

So let’s talk about Presidents Obama and Bush. They each liked to get away from the office. They each sought physical outlets. Bush would either bike or run. Obama preferred golf. Kudos to each man. They found activities which let them unwind. The Republic did not fall. 

Consider the reality of the office of the presidency. The work is all mental. A President does not dig ditches or shingle roofs. A President does not get to take off a tool belt at the end of a work day. A President does not get to look at forty acres of freshly plowed farmland with the satisfaction of a good day’s work now finished. Those mental issues---budgets, taxes, foreign affairs, military challenges, the economy, Congressional relations, the media, and politics---such issues are never fully and finally resolved. Rather they evolve each day, requiring a nimble mind and a constant vigilance. 

Let’s concede the President six hours of sleep each night, noting however that on any given night he might be suddenly woken about any number of national emergencies. To paraphrase an old saying, “the sun never sets on America’s interests”. The six hours of sleep leaves eighteen hours of an emotional roller-coaster as discouraging news collides with encouraging facts. Some days may seem to be all good, other days may seem all bad. No need to fret for the eternal truism applies to the reality of that office---“this too shall pass”.

These eighteen hour days follow one upon another like waves on a beach. There are no early get-away Fridays, no hang-around-the-house Saturdays, no lazy Sundays. A President’s mind is a full barn of problems. I grudge them not any downtime they can find.

I offer the same suggestion to Mr. Trump that I offered to Barack Obama---play more golf, not less. Play poker. Watch games. Do more family things. Be normal. 

President Trump would be well-served to invite members of Congress and the Senate to Mar-a-Lago or to the White House. Summer baseball games, fall football, March Madness, NBA and NHL playoffs offer countless opportunities to unwind. Poker games can break an awful lot of ice. Getting to know someone over a good steak and a stiff drink is smart politics. Eighteen holes of golf, followed by burgers and beer, is as good a use of a President’s time as any canned speech he might make.

The job is not normal. The responsibilities are enormous. Take time away. Make time for family. Play more golf, not less.

Mr. President, be normal.

Tom Finneran is the former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, served as the head the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, and was a longstanding radio voice in Boston radio.


Related Slideshow: Trump’s Win - What Does it Mean for Rhode Island?

Prev Next

Jennifer Duffy

Cook Report

"We don't really know what a Trump presidency means for the nation, never mind the smallest state.  One of the unintended consequences of last night's results is that Sen. Jack Reed won't be chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Chalk that up as a loss for RI."

Prev Next

Pam Gencarella

Head of Ocean State Taxpayers' Association

"Trump’s win means that his signature issue, illegal immigration, could have a big impact on RI, hopefully reversing our course as a sanctuary state and saving the state taxpayer millions of dollars.  While we agree with his 'repeal and replace' Obamacare stance, we have no idea what that means to the RI debacle known as UHIP.  It is not a stretch to believe that federal funding for this kind of system will be off the table so, will RI be stuck with this massively expensive system that still doesn’t work and that is expected to cost another $124 million to fix?  

Trump's belief that there is significant fraud in the Food Stamp program and the policies that may come from that belief could have a negative impact on RI's local economy since there are businesses in certain cities that rely heavily on this program, fraud and all. On the upside, we may be able to ditch the UHIP program if there is significantly less need for processing welfare program requests (ie. Medicaid and food stamps) resulting from fewer illegal immigrants and less fraud.  While we are ambivalent about his touted child care policies, if enacted, it may force our legislators to revisit the ever growing state cost of subsidies in this area and possibly reduce the fraud and abuse in this system." 

Prev Next

Kay Israel

Professor at Rhode Island College

"With a Republican President and Congress, Rhode Island will probably be excluded from the 'fruits of victory."  

The congressional delegation will be able to vocally make their presence felt, but in the long term it's more symbolic than substantive.  

For Rhode Island it's a matter of holding on and waiting until '18 or '20 and a surge in Democratic influence."

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Jennifer Lawless

Professor at American University

"The RI congressional delegation just became even less powerful than it was. With unified government, Trump doesn’t need to quell Democrats’ concerns or acquiesce because he’s worried about a Democratically-controlled Senate.

His appointments will reflect that. His executive orders will affect that. And the conservative policy agenda he puts forward will affect that."

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Len Lardaro

Professor at University of Rhode Island

"Well there's a few things -- because there's not going to be gridlock, that's a big difference if it had been Hillary and a GOP Congress, in which nothing would got done. We'll at least get a half a billion in infrastructure that's going to pass which will have an impact.

I think you'll see there will be reduced reliance on government nationally -- and that's where we'll stick out like sore thumb. We've relied way too much on government -- and our government is highly inefficient and ineffective.  Maybe, just maybe, in this who cycle of things we might be forced to be small and more efficient for once.

A couple of other things -- interest rates jumped. The one to follow is the ten year government bond rate -- which is tied to mortgages. It went from 1.7% to 2.05% in one day. The point is -- if the ten year stays high, mortgage rates will start going higher -- and in the short time people will run to re-finance. 

That's the short term impact -- but then if rates stay hight, that will make mortgages more out of reach. And we just passed a bond issue to limit open space -- housing has limited upside here.
The next thing -- the Fed Reserve will go ahead with tightening next month. A strong dollar will hurt manufacturing. When the dollar is strong our exports become more expensive overseas. 

Our goods production sector -- manufacturing and construction -- in the near term will do a little better, but as time goes on will be more limited. But something you won't hear, is there are lags in fiscal policy, of six months to year. So we won't really see the effects until the third our fourth quarter of 2017, going into 2018."

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Mike Stenhouse

RI Center for Freedon and Prosperity

"As the unbelievable turned into reality this morning, it struck me that the presidential election was not really all about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. It was about a fed-up people, revolting against a corrupt system - the "beast" - that relentlessly favors insiders. Hillary personified the beast, while Donald personified the slayer.

Sadly, based on election results in our state, Rhode Island's version of the beast lives on. I fear our political class has not learned the lessons from the Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump movements - and will continue with their government-centric, anti-family, anti-business status quo."

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Kristina Contreras Fox

VP of Young Democrats of America

"A Trump Presidency means the validation of the ugliest part of America. In RI, as with the rest of the country, the hammer of his hatred will fall hardest on minority communities. Being a blue state doesn't make us immune from this danger.

Trump won over 35% (39.5) of the vote here! We need to look in the mirror, and not lie about what the reflection shows us. No more hiding underneath a blue blanket. I expect those who claim Democratic values to be true to those values. The gulf between words and actions have turned into fertile ground for Trump's message to grow here in RI. If you call yourself a Democrat, if you claim to stand in opposition to Trump, now is the time to prove it. Show up and fight back."


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