Thursday, January 5, 2012

A President's Work Day... or Not

By adding Keith Koffler's "White House Dossier" blog to my reading list, President Obama's daily schedule has sort of come into the realm of stuff I see.  I'm not really interested in what is on other people's calendars, but something has been bugging me about that schedule.  And I finally figured it out.

This is the first president in my lifetime who doesn't work a full day. Ever.

Generally, a US President starts his day with meetings at 7 or 730 am, and continues for at least the next 12 hours. Now, that may sound like a long day, but for pete's sake it's only for 4 years, after which the president collects a life-long retirement income and security. Having worked 80 to 100 hour weeks myself on a regular basis in an intense (but not of national importance) job, I expect anyone on the national stage to step up and willingly do the same.

And all our previous presidents did so. But not this one.

For example, compare President Ford's calendar for January 5th with that of President Obama.

History remembers President Ford well, but not really as an overachiever or hard worker. And he was president during a rather calm time in our national life, so I would think his calendar would be rather less crowded than, say, President Obama, who is having to run another war into the ground and build an economic shambles he can occupy. Oh, and who just returned from a long vacation, so probably has a ton of work that's been waiting for him.

We'll let the current president go first, courtesy of Mr Koffler:

Obama Schedule || Thursday, January 5, 2012

10:00 am || Receives the Presidential Daily Briefing
10:50 am || Delivers remarks on the Defense Strategic Review; The Pentagon
3:30 pm || Meets with Treasury Secretary Geithner

All times Eastern

Next, courtesy of the Ford Library Museum, President Ford's Daily Diary for Monday, January 5, 1976:

The President went to the Oval Office.
7:55 8:05
The President met with his Counsellor, John o. Marsh, Jr.
The President went to the Roosevelt Room.
8:05 8:38
The President met with White House senior staff.
The President returned to the Oval Office.
The President went to the South Grounds of the White House.
8:51 8:59 EST CST 9:00 10:05
The President flew by helicopter from the South Grounds to Andrews AFB, Maryland. (Actual flying time: 2 hours, 5 minutes)
The President was greeted by: Governor Christopher S. Bond (R-Missouri) John C. Danforth, Missouri State Attorney General
10:15 10:17
The President participated in a question and answer session with members of the press.
The President went to his motorcade.
10:17 10:37
The President, accompanied by Governor Bond, motored from Lambert Field AFB to Kiel Auditorium, 1400 Market Street.
The President was greeted by President of the American Farm Bureau Federation William J. Kuhfuss.
The President, escorted by Mr. Kuhfuss, went to the holding room. The President attended the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention. Members of the press


Ok I'm tired, and it's not even noon yet. President Ford went on to address a crowd of 5,000 convention attendees, take part in individual photo sessions with all the Farm Bureau State Presidents, had lunch with them, met with the Secretary of Agriculture, sat for an interview with 20 Midwest Media Representative, met with his campaign committee, called a Major's widow to express condolences, flew back to Washington DC, arriving at 6:59 and then met with the Cabinet Secretary, followed by a meeting with Special Assistants to the Secretary of the Treasury. President Ford finally went upstairs at 7:50 pm and had dinner with Betty. But his day wasn't over until 9:56 pm, when he spoke with an executive for Reader's Digest magazine.

This was a pretty average day for Gerald Ford. You can go see the rest of President Ford's daily calendars here. Just pick one. Any one. They are all like that: long, long days, usually starting about 7:45 am and not over until at least 12 hours later.

I don't suppose any of this matters much, but I think I liked the old days, when Presidents had to earn their keep by actually working a full day while they were in the White House.
January 6 UPDATE:  Today's schedule is even less like every other President's, and more like that of a game show winner "President For A Day", and ends at noon. 

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