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Your Mail: The President Deserves His Vacation

In response to my article on President Bush’s vacation, you countered that my attack was partisan and unprincipled. Everyone needs a vacation you say - - especially the president.

While rest is surely needed, I ask: Is this the right time? And what message does it send?

RS writes:

What is wrong with a person taking vacation? America has more problems within than worrying about whether the president takes vacation or not. It is not President Bush's fault that there is such a war going on. When is anyone going to address the real cause for the problem in the middle east? The terrorist groups that keep people prisoners in there own countries.

They don't want democracy for people to live there lives in freedom. I think the media needs a more positive approach to what the president has done and is trying to do.

SRE: Independent of the Hezbollah-Israeli crisis, I think the civil strife in Iraq is a direct result of the president’s policy, and that his vacation after Rumsfeld’s testimony is, at best, poorly timed.

Lori Laack writes:

You say that “no one wants to begrudge the president the rest he needs to run the country. But maybe he could find some time to get it when there isn’t a war or two going on at the same time.”

The last time I heard, a war has been going on for years. I guess the president, even if it was Clinton, should not go on vacation at all. It’s not like he is on the job 24-7 365 days a year, and in an emergency, even through a vacation.

We all appreciate your insight into President Bush’s vacation; however, it does seem to be a little harsh and begrudging.

SRE: Thanks Lori, I appreciate your point and acknowledge that being the president is a 24-7 job. However, as violence is escalating both in Israel and Iraq, I don’t think it is fair to say that the president is taking a break at a time of constant status quo. I would also think that his time in Crawford during Katrina and low approval ratings would affect his decision.

Randall Smith writes:

People lose their effectiveness after working too many hours. The president is no exception. I am sure the president's job is one of the most high stress jobs on this planet...he needs down time. At least he is not taking down time while he is supposed to be on the job like your beloved Clinton (a.k.a. going "down" on Monica Lewinski in the oval office). Clinton's presidency was a cakewalk, considering the only crisis he encountered was one of his own making.

SRE: Certainly our political paradigm shifted in the course of W’s presidency, but a lot happened between 1992 and 2000 besides the Lewinsky scandal.

Your greater point, however, is that my criticism is partisan. I criticized Clinton then and am criticizing Bush now because I think the kind of message the vacation sends at this time should be evaluated.

Susan Estrich is currently the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California and a member of the Board of Contributors of USA Today. She writes the "Portia" column for American Lawyer Media and is a contributing editor of The Los Angeles Times. She was appointed by the president to serve on the National Holocaust Council and by the mayor of the City of Los Angeles to serve on that city's Ethics Commission. A woman of firsts, she was the first woman president of the Harvard Law Review and the first woman to head a national presidential campaign (Dukakis). Estrich is committed to paving the way for women to assume positions of leadership. Books by Estrich include "Real Rape," "Getting Away with Murder: How Politics is Destroying the Criminal Justice System" and "Dealing with Dangerous Offenders." Her book "Making the Case for Yourself: A Diet Book for Smart Women," is a departure from her other works, encouraging women to take care of themselves by engaging the mind to fight for a healthy body. Her latest book, The Los Angeles Times bestseller, "Sex & Power," takes an impassioned look at the division of power between men and women in the American workforce, proving that the idea of gender equality is still just an idea.