Another double standard: Giuliani bashes Obama over “vacations”

Appearing on Fox News and MSNBC to criticize the Obama administration's response to the oil spill, Rudy Giuliani attacked President Obama for taking vacations after the oil spill and the Christmas Day bombing attempt, stating that “if it had been President Bush,” the media would have slammed him. In fact, Bush did remain on vacation after the 2001 shoe bomber attempt and was not criticized for doing so; moreover, Bush spent several weekends at the Camp David retreat in the months following Hurricane Katrina.

Attacking Obama's Christmas bomber response, Giuliani claims Bush would have been slammed by press if he “remain[ed] on vacation” and didn't “respond for three days”

Giuliani: "[I]f it had been President Bush, the media would have come down on him." From the June 17 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

GIULIANI: They caught him on Christmas morning, the president's on vacation. President remains on vacation for 11 days. Doesn't respond for three days. This is a dilatory response that I think if it had been President Bush, the media would have come down on him like catch the dogs. And I think you would have learned something from that. You learn from getting criticized. He gets a pass. He doesn't get criticized.

In fact, Bush waited six days before mentioning shoe bomber and remained on vacation

Bush waited six days before commenting on 2001 shoe bomber attack. On December 22, 2001, after Richard Reid attempted to light a fuse in his shoes while aboard a U.S.-bound American Airlines international flight, the passengers and flight crew were able to restrain him and foil the plot. Bush first mentioned Reid on December 28, 2001 -- six days after Reid's attempted bombing -- during a press conference in Crawford, Texas.

Bush remained on two-week vacation at Camp David and his Texas ranch after shoe bomber attack. According to announcements from the Office of the Press Secretary (accessed via Nexis), Bush arrived at Camp David on December 22, 2001, and then traveled to the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas, on December 26. The New York Times reported on December 31: “Last week, the president arrived at the ranch after Christmas at Camp David and has since been running, fishing, clearing brush, watching University of Texas football, reading a biography of Theodore Roosevelt and getting in a 'little chain-saw work,' as he put it at his news conference.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on January 6, 2002, that Bush would return to the White House on January 7, 2002:

President Bush returns to the White House on Monday to begin a contentious election year amid war, recession and a gloomy budget outlook.

Fresh from a two-week holiday break at Camp David and his Texas ranch, Bush is scheduled to start his week meeting with Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan and White House economic advisers to search for ways to turn around the shrinking economy. [accessed via Nexis]

Jan. 2002, Wash. Times: “Critics find little to carp about with Bush vacation.” Bill Sammon wrote in a January 4, 2002, Washington Times article that “Democrats and journalists” had not criticized Bush for taking the vacation and quoted Leon Panetta stating of Bush, “No matter where you're at, you're going to find yourself preoccupied with the job of being president ... It's not like he's sitting in a rocking chair”:

President Bush took some heat for going on vacation in August during a period of peace and relative prosperity, but the critics are silent now as he takes a second break less than four months later, at a time of war and recession.

The new restraint appears to be a nod to the president's heightened stature as wartime commander in chief. Democrats and journalists who accused the president of “loafing” back in August are now more willing to shrug off presidential vacations.

One critic who changed his tune was Leon Panetta, who served as President Clinton's White House chief of staff.


“There are no vacations when you're the president of the United States, particularly when you're consumed in a crisis like this,” Mr. Panetta told The Washington Times yesterday. “No matter where you're at, you're going to find yourself preoccupied with the job of being president.” Besides, Mr. Panetta added, “It's not like he's sitting in a rocking chair.”


Democrats, far from ridiculing Mr. Bush's shirk ethic, are now lauding his work ethic.

“There's no tougher task that any president has to confront than the one that George Bush has had since September 11th,” said Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh of Boston. “So I don't think there's any doubt in anyone's mind how focused and how hard he's been working when it comes to confronting the war in Afghanistan.” [accessed via Nexis]

Politico: “President Obama takes the heat President Bush did not.” Contrary to Giuliani's claim that Obama got “a pass” from the media after the Christmas bombing attempt, and that if Bush had responded in a similar manner “the media would have come down on him,” a December 29, 2009, Politico article noted that “it was six days before President George W. Bush, then on vacation, made any public remarks about the so-called shoe bomber, Richard Reid, and there were virtually no complaints from the press or any opposition Democrats that his response was sluggish or inadequate.” Politico added: “That stands in sharp contrast to the withering criticism President Barack Obama has received from Republicans and some in the press for his reaction to Friday's incident on a Northwest Airlines flight heading for Detroit.” From the article:

Bush did not address reporters about the Reid episode until December 28, after he had traveled from Camp David to his ranch in Texas.

Democrats do not appear to have criticized Bush over the delay. Many were wary of publicly clashing with the commander in chief, who was getting lofty approval ratings after what appeared to be a successful military campaign in Afghanistan. The media also seemed to have little interest in pressing Bush about the bombing, or the fact that the incident had revealed a previously unknown vulnerability in airplane security -- that shoes could be used to hide chemicals or explosive devices.

Giuliani attacks Obama for weekend trips during oil spill

Giuliani: Obama “was off on vacation twice” during oil spill. During the June 17 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Giuliani stated that the oil spill was not Obama's priority “because the president was off on vacation twice during all of this.” He later repeated his claim that “when we had the Christmas bombing, he was on vacation ... remained on vacation for 11 days”:

JOE SCARBOROUGH (co-host): Well, the president himself said, though, on April 22 --

MIKA BRZEZINKSI (co-host): Yes, I just pulled up that --

SCARBOROUGH: On April 22 he called all the agency heads in and he said, OK, listen, this is gonna be very bad. It's before -- it's before the thing blew out of the water, and he said this is the top priority for this government. We have to focus on it. This is job number one.

GIULIANI: Well, then that's even worse, because if -- if this was job number one, look at the horrible -- if this is job number one, which I don't think it was, because the president was off on vacation twice during all of this. If this were job number one --

SCARBOROUGH: Did you go on vacation as the mayor?

GIULIANI: Did I go on vacation as the mayor? No.

SCARBOROUGH: Isn't that a cheap shot?

GIULIANI: No, it is not a cheap shot.

SCARBOROUGH: You never went on vacation?

GIULIANI: Not in the middle of a crisis, I didn't.

SCARBOROUGH: Ronald Reagan went on vacation.

GIULIANI: Not in the middle of a crisis, he didn't.

SCARBOROUGH: George W. Bush went on vacation.

GIULIANI: Not in the middle of a crisis. This is the second time the president has done that, and I resent it. On Christmas Day, when we had the Christmas bombing, he was on vacation --

SCARBOROUGH: It was Christmas.

GIULIANI: -- remained on vacation for 11 days.

Obama visited Asheville in April and Chicago in May. The Obamas visited Asheville, North Carolina, the weekend of April 23. During that trip, Obama eulogized the 29 workers killed in the West Virginia mine explosion and “met with the workers' families privately before the ceremony,” according to CNN. During Memorial Day weekend, Obama traveled to Chicago and was scheduled to deliver his Memorial Day address at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery. Due to a thunderstorm, he spoke at Andrews Air Force Base instead.

Bush vacationed during aftermath of Katrina

Bush reportedly made at least three trips to Camp David in the two months after Katrina struck Gulf. In the two months after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005, Bush reportedly made at least three separate weekend trips to the presidential retreat at Camp David. Bush visited the Camp David retreat in September 2005 and again during two weekends in October 2005. Three months after the hurricane, news outlets reported that hundreds of thousands of people were "still at loose ends in provisional housing -- many in isolated trailer parks"; "thousands of people were “still unaccounted for”; and "[m]ore than 80 percent of New Orleans's population has not been able to return home."

Giuliani reportedly spent more time at Yankees games then at World Trade Center

Giuliani touted his own response to NYC crises. On Morning Joe, Giuliani claimed he did not “go on vacation as the mayor ... in the middle of a crisis.” Giuliani touted his record, claiming, “On Christmas evening, the first year that I was the mayor, I left my house and I went to the hospital, and I spent five hours there, because I was the mayor of New York City, and I should be on the spot, taking charge of something from the very beginning. This has been a gross failure in crisis management. Could not have done it worse. And you shouldn't be on vacation when a crisis is affecting the country.”

New York Times refuted Giuliani's previous claim that he was at ground zero “as often, if not more” than cleanup workers. In an August 2007 article, The New York Times reported:

On at least three occasions, in responding to accusations that the city failed to adequately protect the health of workers in the wreckage, he has boasted that he faced comparable risks himself. In one appearance he declared that he had been in the ruins “as often, if not more” than the cleanup workers who logged hundreds of hours in the smoldering pile.


So, how much time did Mayor Giuliani spend at ground zero?

A complete record of Mr. Giuliani's exposure to the site is not available for the chaotic six days after the attack, when he was a frequent visitor. But an exhaustively detailed account from his mayoral archive, revised after the events to account for last-minute changes on scheduled stops, does exist for the period of Sept. 17 to Dec. 16, 2001. It shows he was there for a total of 29 hours in those three months, often for short periods or to visit locations adjacent to the rubble. In that same period, many rescue and recovery workers put in daily 12-hour shifts.

Salon: Giuliani spent more time at Yankees games than at ground zero following the 9-11 attacks. In an August 18, 2007, article, Alex Koppelman examined Giuliani's schedule in the 90 days following the World Trade Center attacks and found: “By our count, Giuliani spent about 58 hours at Yankees games or flying to them in the 40 days between Sept. 25 and Nov. 4, roughly twice as long as he spent at ground zero in the 90 days between Sept. 17 and Dec. 16.”

Giuliani has previously revised history of Bush-era terror attacks

Giuliani falsely claimed "[w]e had no domestic attacks under Bush." On the January 8 edition of ABC's Good Morning America, Giuliani falsely claimed that "[w]e had no domestic attacks under Bush. We've had one under Obama." Media Matters has documented numerous domestic attacks during the Bush administration following the September 11 World Trade Center attacks.

Giuliani: “I usually say we had no domestic attacks, no major domestic attack under President Bush since September 11.” After falsely claiming on Good Morning America that "[w]e had no domestic attacks under Bush," Giuliani stated during CNN's The Situation Room, “I did omit the words 'since September 11.' I apologize for that. I should have put it in.” However, Giuliani continued to ignore several domestic attacks that took place under Bush after 9-11 -- including the 2002 attack at Los Angeles International Airport, the 2002 D.C.-area sniper shootings, and the 2006 SUV attack at the University of North Carolina -- and dismissed the 2001 anthrax attacks, which were characterized by John Ashcroft as “a terrorist act,” because, Giuliani said, “as far as we know, that was not done in the name of Islamic terrorism.”