For relaxation-impaired locals, things have been particularly trying this past week, given that President Clinton, after his customarily indecisive, all-too-public decision-making process, actually went off with his wife and daughter to Martha's Vineyard. Until this happened, those who have trouble vacationing could take some solace in the fact that in Clinton, Americans had in the White House someone who himself hadn't taken a vacation in years - someone, moreover, whose most notable vacation was a grad-school-era fact- finding trip to the Soviet Union, which ended up (comfortingly, to the vacation-suspicious) coming back to haunt him as a campaign issue. Much better than George Bush, who had to be dragged in from bonefishing or yanked off the golf course every time there was a coup in Moscow or the Iraqis invaded Kuwait. Clinton, clearly, was someone comfortable at his desk - or, perhaps, any desk available.
The president's ultimate vacation choice should provide the vacation-anxious with some comfort. The president wasn't really on vacation at all. Sure, he golfed. And he probably did crack a novel. But let's get real. For all intents and purposes, the guy was in Georgetown. This wasn't a vacation. The president wasn't down in Orlando waiting in line to see Shamu the Killer Whale; that's a vacation. No, he was hanging out with his Washington buddies, doing what the essential Clinton does best: schmooze.
The ultimate question, of course, is why there is so much vacation anxiety in Washington. One reason is that a vacation, like all things purchased with disposable income, is subject to comparision and competition, and the person who doesn't vacation well, like the person who doesn't own a Miata or a Rolex, inevitably looks somewhat inadequate. When your peers are heading for the Hamptons or toddling off to India, you can't very well rejoinder with four days at Hershey Park. As the First Vacationer's handlers realized, the right image is crucial; that means the likes of Disneyland and Graceland are out. (And remember, people who tell co-workers they're going to "The South" fool no one.)
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