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Jewish World Review August 9, 2002 /1 Elul, 5762

Tom Purcell

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Consumer Reports

Vacationless prez and gutless Americans | President Bush is enjoying his month-long vacation, and Democrats can't be critical enough.

DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe said, mockingly, that Bush is retreating to Crawford, Texas so he can be with his dog Barney. Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening said the public needs hands-on leadership during our time of crisis, but all Bush will give us is vacation photo ops. One presidential historian, a frequent Bush critic, says that because Bush gets bored with the details of government, he's always escaping to his ranch.

Ah, clam it.

Look, the truth we Americans would all be better off if we took more vacations, and took them longer. We work long and hard to keep our jobs during uncertain times and work longer and harder when the economy is strong. And we're becoming tired, dull and unable to think for ourselves as a result.

I know for certain America would be better off if Congress took more vacations. I can't think of a better way to end the deficit and boost the economy than to stop these fellows from packing every bill with more pork than you'll find at a Louisiana barbecue.

Washington would sure be better off. Washington's crime rate drops dramatically when Congress isn't in town, particularly pick-pocketing. I used to think all those cops on Capitol Hill were protecting Congress from the public, but I recently learned the cops are protecting the public from Congress.

Surely guys like Senate Majority Leader Daschle and House Minority Leader Gephardt could benefit from long vacations. Daschle could go to one of those men's movement retreats where he would be taught how to act and talk like a man, instead of the passive-aggressive, conniving little soap-opera actor twit that he is.

As for Gephardt, he really needs to rest his vocal cords. I don't really care where he goes, though I'd suggest he avoid the sun. I agree with the observation of one Wall Street Journal commentator: Gephardt has the odd look of a man whose head was just pulled out of a pizza oven.

Anyhow, the President Bush should head to his Crawford, Texas ranch for a month-long vacation. But the truth is, presidents don't really get to vacation anyhow. Because we Americans are getting soft and losing our ability to think for ourselves, we need to have our leaders reassure us every 10 minutes on every subject under the sun.

While Bush is at his ranch, he'll meet routinely with world leaders and military guys to show us that he's keeping up the fight against terrorism. He'll meet with other government types to show he's concerned about domestic stuff. And he'll probably put Alan Greenspan up in the guest house to show the government is doing everything it can to get our portfolios back to the unrealistic levels they were when we were all gambling.

But I wish the president could take a real vacation - the kind we used to take before we got used to working ourselves to death.

The president could load Laura and the girls into the station wagon, pack it down with luggage, and bring the dog. After several hours on the road, they will get lost, and Laura and the president will get into a big fight.

Later, while at a rest stop, the family will forget to retrieve the dog. They won't notice until they're two hours away. Two days later, after they find the dog, they'll finally arrive at the vacation cottage. It'll be crawling with ants and Laura and the girls refuse to go inside, and the family will be forced to book the last available room at the Motel 6.

Instead of photo ops of the president with world leaders, we'll see images of a heavily sunburned president who napped too long on a hammock. He'll be snoring and his mouth will be open. We'll see him dining alone, too, since his wife and daughters will no longer be talking to him.

Finally, when the family can't take it anymore, they'll load up the station wagon and head on back. The president will be completely exhausted at this point and eager to get back to the Oval Office, so that he can finally get some rest.

Now that's the kind of vacation that would do a president some good. It would surely keep him in touch with the common man. Too bad we Americans don't have the guts to allow it.

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© 2002, Tom Purcell