The Washington Post

Obama’s annual Hawaiian vacation scheduling blues

Our colleagues over at 2Chambers are reporting that President Obama has threatened to delay his annual Hawaii vacation and keep Congress in Washington past its scheduled Dec. 16 recess date if members do not approve an extension to the payroll tax cut for next year.

Obama is scheduled to be in Hono­lulu with his wife and daughters from Dec. 17-Jan. 2. Would he really delay it?

Yes, if past years are any precedent.

In both of his first two years in office, Obama delayed his vacation by a day or two to remain in Washington until Congress completed its business.

In 2009, Obama waited an extra day before leaving town to be sure Congress approved his landmark health care legislation.

Last year, Obama joined his family five days late as he shepherded two legislative bills through Capitol Hill, extending tax cuts and repealing a military ban on openly gay service members.

In some ways, perhaps it would be good for the president if he doesn’t head West quite as early as planned. As is always the case with presidential vacations, Obama already is being criticized for planning to take a 17-day holiday.

For example, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney mocked Obama on Tuesday for “going off for golf in the sun.”

And it isn’t as hard for a president to change plans at the last minute as it might be for ordinary holiday travelers.

As the New York Times’ Helene Cooper wrote in 2009: “Though he may be stuck in Washington a bit longer, he does have one consolation. When you have your own plane waiting at Andrews Air Force Base, you can delay a trip and still know that you will not be held in confinement on the tarmac for hours when it is time to go.”

David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.


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