THE BLOG
08/05/2005 05:59 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Who's Running the Country?

Who takes a two hour exercise break in the middle of the work day? Who takes five week vacations? Who takes over 350 vacation days in less than five years? Who refuses to work at night and on the weekends? Third graders … and apparently, our president.

Can you imagine if you asked your boss if you could take off 70 days this year? That’s more than two months, even if you included the weekends. What are the chances your boss thinks that’s a good idea? What’s the likelihood he’s going to think you can still effectively carry out your job?

Now imagine if you’re running your own business and you decide you are going to take off 20% of the days you’re supposed to be working and take vacations instead. What do you think would happen to your business? It would sink like a rock (or maybe like Iraq).

The President has already taken off 319 days and counting in less than five years. He is in the middle of his annual five week vacation on his Crawford ranch, which will put his vacation days at over 350 when he’s completed this stretch. He will soon surpass President Reagan’s record of vacation days in the modern presidency – 335 days. Reagan took eight years to get to that total. All of this doesn’t even include the days Bush was in Camp David or Kennebunkport. He has taken 20% of his work days off, even without counting vacations outside of Crawford. This is simply a stunning amount of vacation time.

You might be able to get away with doing this little work, if you did a job that really isn’t very important. But for the love of God, this man is the President of the United States. He has the most important job in the world. He makes decisions that get thousands of people killed, for better or for worse. He changes the course of nations. He makes decisions that affect all of our lives, and sometimes end some of our lives -- like the 21 Marines who came home in coffins over the last couple of days while the President was on vacation. Do you mind paying a little attention when you have a job like that?

We often hear that Crawford is equipped with the latest technology, so that the President can conduct his affairs from there just as well. If that’s true, then why doesn’t he spend all his time at Crawford? Obviously, there are tremendous advantages to being in Washington, where the entire infrastructure of government is located. If you’re the President, you’re not supposed to just phone it in.

They don’t call it a vacation for nothing. He’s obviously spending less time working than he normally does, which was already quite meager. Honestly, I’m just as upset by how little time he puts in on a regular working day, let alone what he does on his vacations.

Let’s also remember that the President thinks there are some things that are important enough to interrupt his vacation. He left Crawford in the middle of the night to sign the bill relating to Terri Schiavo. We now have 21 Marines dead and a tape from Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda’s number two man, threatening more strikes inside the United States – but apparently that’s not good enough to interrupt his precious vacation.

I run a radio talk show for a living. I am one of the hosts and I manage the business affairs. It is one of the most insignificant jobs in the world. The fate of the world will not be decided by radio talk show hosts (let’s hope). But we take our job seriously. Every day we have to inform and entertain our listeners. If you care to do it right, it is a time consuming task.

I have to be up on all of the news everyday, from politics to entertainment to pop culture. I have to prepare a three hour show and get ready to be quizzed by a nationwide audience. We have to set up guests, production elements and every segment of the show. We have to do marketing, publicity, affiliate relations and sales. The list goes on and on.

I’ve eaten my breakfast and lunch at my desk for as long as I can remember (actually I remember I used to go out for lunch when I was lawyer because I didn’t care about that job). I have no time to take an hour lunch, let alone a two hour exercise break in the middle of the day. I don’t have the luxury of saying I won’t work at nights or on the weekends. And the thought of a five week vacation is not within the bounds of my imagination.

And all of this for a job that is not even close to one percent as important as President of the United States. How does George Bush take all this time off? There is only one way – he doesn’t care.

He doesn’t care to do the job right. He doesn’t care about the specifics. He doesn’t care to do the hard work to make sure everything is on track.

I understand the President’s job is far too big for just one person to do all of it. I understand you have to delegate. I delegate the marketing, the affiliate relations, the producing and almost every other facet of our show. But I care enough to check to make sure every one is doing their job right.

Have they met their goals? Do we have the right goals for each sector? Do we have the right people in the right positions? Are we getting the results we want in all the different areas of the business? Do we have to adjust our game plan to changing conditions?

Every business owner knows these tough questions and deals with them every day, and even at night and on the weekends. And every business owner knows this isn’t something you can do half-ass.

If this is the attitude George Bush had in all of the businesses he ran before he became governor, then no wonder they all went bankrupt.

But instead of suffering the consequences for all those failures, George Bush was always rewarded with another new business or another new political post by powerful people who had an interest in keeping him going. If you sank all those companies, do you think you would get a new round of millionaire investors showing up at your door?

Do you think you would get the same people showing up to campaign for you to become the governor of your state? Do you think you’d get all those people to finance record spending on your presidential campaigns?

The only way that happens is if your name is George W. Bush and your backers have something to gain. This is the real world and we all know how it works. There is no magic. There are people who stand to gain certain things if some people are propped up, and there are people who do the hard work to make that happen.

If you look at the recent energy bill that’s passed, or the tort reform bill, or the bankruptcy bill, or the highway bill or the tobacco litigation, or the contracts handed out in Iraq, you know exactly who gained by getting this man into office.

So, now the only question that remains is – who is actually doing the work of the president at the White House? Because somebody has to be running the shop. All those Cabinet Departments need some instruction and all those policy decisions need to get made by somebody. If George W. Bush isn’t minding the store, then who is?

Even when I go on my one week vacation, I know exactly who is managing our business. Does the American public know who is running the country while our President plays cowboy for five weeks? Let alone all the other times when he is clearly not doing enough work to manage the Presidency.

The natural guess is that Dick Cheney is the acting President. But we should confirm that, so that the American public knows who’s actually in charge. There’s also the possibility that they have divided up decision making duties between several people. If one of these people is Karl Rove, then we know why he hasn’t been fired over the Valerie Plame scandal. No one fires themselves.

If President Bush was the real decision maker, he could fire anyone in his administration. But if he isn’t the decision maker, then he can’t fire the actual decision makers.

Given that the President clearly does not spend enough time on the job to make all of the relevant decisions as president, one has to wonder who is making those decisions. The American people have a right to know -- who is running the country?