Carney Derided Bush’s Vacation, Defends Obama’s Vacation Plans

By Fred Lucas | August 11, 2011 | 4:12 PM EDT

President Barack Obama greets people gathered outside a restaurant in Oak Bluffs, Mass. during his summer vacation in Martha's Vineyard last year. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Washington ( – In a 2001 column for Time magazine, journalist Jay Carney ridiculed President George W. Bush about his vacation plans during his first summer in office. Fast forward 10 years and Jay Carney, now White House Press Secretary, was this week strongly defending President Obama’s upcoming vacation at Martha’s Vineyard.

Carney’s Aug. 16, 2001 column scoffed that Bush’s “image makers” were trying to “persuade the public that he wasn’t actually on vacation.” But during a White House press briefing on Wednesday, Carney asserted that “there’s no such thing as a presidential vacation. The presidency travels with you.”

The 2001 column took issue with the way Bush was spending his month-long vacation in Texas.

“Back in July, when they were planning what the President should do during his month-long vacation (as part of their effort to persuade the public that he wasn’t actually on vacation in the generally accepted sense of what vacation means — i.e., having fun and not working), the image-makers hit upon a clever idea,” Carney wrote.

“Every week, they decided, they would send the President somewhere outside Texas for a day or a day and a half to hold an event of some kind in which he would mix with ‘real Americans.’

“The events would have little in common, except for the fact that they would be held far from Washington in the middle of August,” the Time article continued. “But to tie them together, to make it seem as though the President were engaged in some concentrated activity of presidential purpose, they would name the entire series of trips — together with his down time at his ranch in Crawford, Texas — the ‘Home to the Heartland’ tour.”

On Wednesday, Carney took a question about President Obama’s planned 10-day vacation to Martha’s Vineyard.

“I don’t think Americans out there would begrudge that notion that the President would spend some time with his family,” he replied.

“It is also, I think – as anyone who has covered it in the past, either in this administration or others, there’s no such thing as a presidential vacation. The presidency travels with you. He will be in constant communication and get regular briefings from his national security team, as well as his economic team, and he will, of course, be fully capable, if necessary, of traveling back if that were required. It’s not very far.”