Biden escapes his White House ‘gilded cage’ at a faster pace than Trump

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Sixty-nine of those 108 days away from Washington were spent at his home in Wilmington, spread over 23 visits; seven days over two visits to her Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, beach house; and 10 visits over 32 days at Camp David.

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Typically, it takes less than an hour for his helicopter to get from the White House to his Wilmington home, and a White House official said Biden will depart the White House on Friday at the end of the normal business day on several partial days. or return. Washington ahead of the start of the workday on Monday.

This puts Biden ahead of the pace set by former President Donald Trump, who spent less time in his presidency in his Florida and New Jersey getaways than Biden spent in Delaware.


Comparison of Biden and His Predecessors

While most presidents prefer to take time off 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, this is the most time spent away from the White House on a personal visit to this point in the presidency in recent history.

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By comparison, Trump spent all or part of 61 days at his Mar-a-Lago or Bedminster properties in Florida and New Jersey, respectively, during the same period, as well as all or part of nine days in four visits to the camp. . David. Trump also visited other Trump-branded properties, including his Virginia Golf Club and Trump Tower in New York, about 100 times during this time in his office.

At the same time, then-President Barack Obama, who had school-age children during his term, took three vacation trips over the course of 15 days, according to Presidential record-keeper and CBS News veteran Mark Knowler. Includes a trip to his home in Chicago, a trip to Yellowstone National Park in Montana with his family, and a week-long getaway to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Knowler said Obama had spent a full 25 or so days in ten visits to Camp David at this point.

And then-President George W. Bush, according to Knowler’s records, made seven visits to Crawford, Texas, spent 27 full or partial days at his family’s Prairie Chapel Ranch in the first months of his presidency, and 57 more than 19 of Camp David’s. Made trips Full or partial days in Texas or at Camp David for a total of 84 full or partial days.

Other presidents have also made it a point to avoid the confines of the White House: George HW Bush spent time in Kennebunkport, Maine during his presidency; Lyndon Johnson also visited his Texas farm; Franklin Roosevelt visited Warm Springs, Georgia; Ronald Reagan visits his “Western White House” in Goleta, California; Richard Nixon went to La Casa Pacific in California; John F. Kennedy moved to Hyannis Port, Massachusetts; And Harry Truman spent part of his presidency in Key West, Florida, while the White House was undergoing renovations.

a ‘gilded cage’

The Covid-19 pandemic has radically changed the working habits of white-collar workers, with many Americans adopting more flexible schedules and opting to work from home instead of commuting five days per week. The White House doubles as the president’s workplace and home, but Biden can, and does, travel anywhere with secure communications equipment and facilities.

White House spokesman Andrew Bates told Granthshala, “The President of the United States is constantly on the job, regardless of his location; whether on a trip abroad or just 100 miles from the White House for a short trip to Wilmington. be on.”

Bates said, “Wherever he is, the president works every day to defeat the pandemic, to make sure our economy delivers for the middle class — not just the top one — and to protect our national security.” Also, as all Americans can agree, it is important for leaders to avoid being enslaved in Washington, DC.”

After the presidency, former presidents have often lamented the restrictions of domestic life in the White House, with Truman calling it “the great white prison” and Michelle Obama referring to it as “a really good prison”. , which makes it not unusual. A president seeking relief in the more familiar digs.

“Even in residences on the second and third floors, the president and his family are rarely alone. They can often hear the slogans of protesters in Lafayette Park across the street. During the Vietnam War, Lucy and Linda Byrd Johnson could hear it in her bedroom,” said Kate Anderson Brown, a Granthshala contributor and author of “Team of Five: The President’s Club in the Age of Trump.”

“There’s a sense of claustrophobia that comes with the field. People are coming in and out to tour (in pre-Covid times) and reporters don’t work far from the Oval Office,” Brower said.

Biden himself has expressed a similar sentiment since taking office.
“I said that when I was running, I wanted to be president, not just to be in the White House but to be able to make decisions about the future of the country,” Biden told Granthshala’s town hall for four weeks in his presidency. said.

He continued, “And so living in the White House, as you’ve heard other presidents who are extremely flattered to be there, is a gold medal in terms of being able to walk outside and do things.” Water is like a cage made of water.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki lashed out at Biden’s tendency to get out of town, defending his boss.

“Because it’s his house. You like to go home, don’t you? The president does the same thing. He’s also a human,” Saki told reporters at a briefing in August.

And in early March as Covid-19 cases remained high and the vaccination program was ramping up, Psaki was asked whether Biden should do more to set an example about personal travel during the pandemic.

“Well, the President lives in Wilmington. It’s his home. That’s where he’s lived for many, many years. And as you know, as any President of the United States does, he goes by air to travel there. It takes a private airplane called Force One. It’s, of course, a unique — unique from most Americans, but I think most Americans would also see it as a unique circumstance,” she said.

getting away from Washington

While in Wilmington, Biden spends time with his family, including the first lady and her grandchildren, but he also uses their home as a workplace.

“Even the president is affected by the new pandemic white-collar lifestyle of work from home, wherever he is,” Brower said.

She continued, “The Oval Office no longer refers to just the physical location, it’s actually where the president goes. And that’s the case for many people who have the luxury of working remotely.”

In or off the West Wing, Biden, a White House official told Granthshala, is “constantly strategizing with staff, being briefed on the economy and national security, with lawmakers to advance his legislative agenda.” Talking together, and much more.” Modern technology, the official said, makes it “easier than ever” for the president to work completely from anywhere, with many employees working remotely at the start of the administration.

Biden usually attends mass on Saturdays or Sundays while in town, and has played about a dozen rounds of golf at nearby Fieldstone Golf Club. That’s a local coffee shop, Bru Ha Ha! With her granddaughters earlier this month.

Earlier this month, she and first lady Meghan O’Toole, a former cast member of Real Housewives of Orange County, went to their sister’s nearby home for their nephew Cuffe Owens’ “small family wedding” for King. He’s also spent some time in the field on more mundane tasks, like seeing a doctor for a follow-up visit after a foot injury.

The White House official said Biden has received virtual briefings from his team away from the White House as per his public schedule, and has always been with senior staff members for domestic policy and national security, White House Communications Agency military personnel and other aides. travel together. .

Biden, the official said, “is in constant contact with a broad spectrum of other employees to continue making progress on all of the issues we worked on during the week.”

price of escape

No matter how near or far, there are always taxpayer resources when a president travels.

Jonathan Vacro, a former US Secret Service agent and Granthshala, told Granthshala, “There is a significant level of taxpayer spending whenever the president leaves the grounds of the White House, whether for a local stop in Washington, D.C. or Overnight in Delaware.” Law enforcement analyst.

Those expenses include travel and accommodation for the Secret Service as agents, officers, and technical professionals descend to the president’s destination. There is a secure communication infrastructure set up by military personnel. Local law enforcement and other public security entities, including fire departments and emergency medical services (EMS), are deployed when the president arrives. There are also transportation considerations, Wacro said, including Marine One and its support structure, fuel, mechanical considerations and aircraft safety.

Whoever’s in office, and wherever they’re going, says Vacro, “there’s a giant bubble that runs with the president. The reason it’s so big is because you don’t hinder his ability to respond for a moment.” crisis – it has to equal all of Washington’s resources.”

Biden’s trips to Camp David, a permanent military installation, are less resource-intensive, however, the president’s withdrawal is heavily fortified and supported by the military.

“The infrastructure is built in – built at SCIF at Camp David, it has a built-in Presidential Emergency Command Center, it has all the resources you would usually bring in temporarily, they are built in permanently at Camp David, said Wacro.

Granthshala’s Kate Bennett contributed to this report.


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