We all need holidays, even Presidents
In January 2005 the public was still reeling from the devastation of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami when the beginning of the end for Mark Latham took place.
The then-Opposition Leader refused to break his summer holiday to put out a statement about the horrific event - he wouldn’t even return the calls of the then acting leader Senator Chris Evans (deputy Labor leader Jenny Macklin was also on leave). It turned out Latham was sick, of the pancreas and of politics, and he disappeared off into the Western Sydney sunset.
At the time it seemed inexplicable that someone wouldn’t halt their vacation for an hour or two to deal with a crisis of such enormity. But perhaps Mark Latham was a work life balance visionary.
This week US President Barack Obama raced off from a Hawaiian golf course to deal with his own emergency - the child of a family friend had suffered a minor injury.
This flurry of activity excited more than the usual amount of interest because it took the President three days to break his yuletide vacation to comment on the the failed attempt by al Qaeda to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it approached Detroit on Christmas Day.
Initially I thought it was a bit weird that the President didn’t rush out a reassuring statement to the American people about the such a close shave with horror. But then thinking about it a bit longer - surely it’s a sign things are under control.
Is any one of us so indispensable we can’t have a proper holiday? There would have to be something like 147 other highly competent people dealing with the aborted terror plot wouldn’t there?
James Packer says the bloke who dies with the most toys wins, but I once worked for a guy who said the bloke who dies having had the most holidays wins. He seemed pretty happy (and rich).
I’m not advocating a job share arrangement for the Prime Minister (although with with Julia Gillard racking up so many days as acting PM it could be on the cards), but perhaps the cool thing for the new decade approaching will be being secure enough in your position to be able to walk away for a spot of fly fishing or to read a book to your kids.
It didn’t work for a lot of people who tried it in the decade that’s drawing to a close. Former NSW Premier Morris Iemma tried to enforce a rule he’d be home in time to have dinner with his children. Unfortunately while he was cutting up sausages and reading the Hungry Caterpillar factional forces were plotting against him.
And while I’m sure Tony Abbott put aside a little time for Mass on Christmas day, his work rate over the last week and a half has been singularly manic. He’s only going to get one shot, and clearly he wants to make it a good one.
But here’s to Barack Obama’s Hawaiian vacation. If only we could all have one.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…