After two days of firefights, a marine packed the personal effects of 12 fallen comrades at the combat outpost in Ramadi on Thursday. [Maurizio Gambarini/European Pressphoto Agency]
The President of the United States is on vacation again, but it's OK -- he's not skiing. Emphasis mine in the quote below:
Democrats criticized Bush for taking the Easter-week vacation while U.S. forces are struggling to put down an uprising in Iraq. Campaigning in Milwaukee, Sen. John F. Kerry, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, said: "I notice President Bush is taking some days off down at Crawford, Texas, and I'm told that when he takes days off, you know, he totally relaxes: He doesn't watch television, he doesn't read the newspapers, he doesn't make long-term plans, doesn't worry about the economy. I thought about that for a moment. I said, sounds to me like it's just like life in Washington, doesn't it?"
White House communications director Dan Bartlett retorted that Bush is "not skiing" in Texas, as Kerry did on a recent vacation in Idaho. He said Bush remains in contact with his military advisers and is spending Easter weekend with his family. "Most Americans will understand that," Bartlett said.
This is Bush's 33rd visit to his ranch since becoming president. He has spent all or part of 233 days on his Texas ranch since taking office, according to a tally by CBS News. Adding his 78 visits to Camp David and his five visits to Kennebunkport, Maine, Bush has spent all or part of 500 days in office at one of his three retreats, or more than 40 percent of his presidency.
233 days since January 2001, or almost 80 days per year? Yeah, he's just a "regular guy." U.S. workers take an average of 10.2 vacation days a year after three years on the job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
If I were President, I would probably not have continued with my month-long vacation after receiving a briefing titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."
[I found the image above on the NY Times web site, but there was no link to make it larger. If someone finds a better version of the image I will replace it.]
UPDATED: I realize now that the briefing discussed was given to Bush after he was already in Crawford, Texas for his month-long vacation.