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Katy Burns: Our leader needs a break



Monitor columnist
Sunday, August 13, 2017

When Donald Trump threatened North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen,” raising the prospect of nuclear war and all its horrors, I – along with, I suspect, many millions of other Americans – instantly had one thought.

This man really, really needs a vacation.

And no, his current activity – hanging around a plush golf course in New Jersey (and crashing the odd wedding reception), sending out dotty tweets at dawn’s early light, and jetting off occasionally to places like West Virginia to rally the faithful with a recitation of his greatest moments – does not constitute a vacation, no matter what he wants to call it.

His predecessors knew how to take vacations. In fact, back in what we fondly call the good old days, some presidents would disappear for months.

In 1799, John Adams took seven months off, and even as recently as the last century no less a world traveler and adventurer than Teddy Roosevelt devoted a full three weeks – exclusive of travel time – to bear-hunting in Colorado, an interesting avocation for a man who will forever be known as the inspiration for the beloved teddy bear.

Even our more recent presidents knew how to enjoy some down time well out of the public eye – Barack Obama visited bookstores and bicycled around Martha’s Vineyard, for example, while his predecessor George W. Bush spent happy hours chopping brush at his Texas ranch. Bush’s father, in his day, enjoyed piloting his cigarette boat in the waters off Kennebunkport.

For the most part, the public appreciated it. Fans applauded their guys’ getting some R&R, and those who weren’t fans just were glad to have them gone – and silent – for a few weeks.

Mr. President, take a hint.

Your constituents, whether fans or foes, are exhausted. They want you, in the nicest way, just to go away for a short time. That’s what people call “a vacation.” And for Pete’s – and every other American’s – sake, leave any Twitter-enabling device behind!

I know you’re not an action guy – you’d way rather watch television than hike up Mount Monadnock – but for your vacation, at least, you have to change your viewing diet. Turning on the three hysterics from Fox and Friends each morning only results in incoherent tweetstorms calculated to outrage even your putative political allies and delight late-night comics.

But direct your minions – and being both rich and the president you have fleets of minions – to find more soothing material. What about a steady diet of videos celebrating Bob the Builder, a sweet, round-faced cartoon chap familiar to tykes the world over? After all, you’re a builder. And Bob is such an admirable character.

As Wikipedia summarized the endless Bob plots, “in each episode, Bob and his group help with renovations, construction, and repairs and with other projects as needed. The show emphasizes conflict resolution, cooperation, socialization and various learning skills. Bob’s catchphrase is ‘Can we fix it?’ to which the other characters respond with ‘Yes, we can!’”

Is that uplifting and inspirational, or what? A lesson for all of us! Maybe Mitch McConnell will even join you for a show or two.

Or – another change of video pace – you could spend a few weeks mellowing out with a marathon session of All Creatures Great and Small, a delightful chronicle of the life of small town vets in Yorkshire, England, in the 1930s and ’40s and their adventures with both townspeople and animals.

It’s described as heartwarming and hilarious. Heartwarming is good. And while you don’t strike me as much of a pet guy, these animals are only on video – no need to deal with unpleasant shedding, sounds, or smells or shedding, and since it’s family TV no sights will be too gruesome. It might help you, well, relax for a change.

And maybe – if I may be so bold – you just need to get out a bit. Specifically, out of one Trump mansion or another, with all their meticulously manicured golf courses. After all, you like to campaign as a real Man of the People. But how many real people are you meeting on the back nine of a five-star golf club with an initial membership fee of $350,000?

So how about, for this “vacation,” Mr. President, you embark on a nationwide tour of championship miniature golf courses?

After all, there are no more democratic – notice that is a small “d” – golf courses than the thousands of miniatures that dot the American landscape. Their clientele is a robust mixture of old and young, male and female, with a bracing catholicity of races, religions and nationalities. All told – just by sheer total numbers of players – miniature golf courses have to have a much larger percentage of Trump voters (and every other kind of voter) than those hoity-toity courses do.

And the scenery on miniature golf courses – loaded with streams, ponds, bridges, boulders, trees and any number of cunning windmills and the like – is a lot more diverting and entertaining than endless acres of uninterrupted green grass on Trump courses. Not to mention that grass on the miniature courses tends to be artificial – so much cleaner than the real stuff.

Plus miniature courses are compact – no need to ride around in a clunky cart. You can get out and – novel idea – walk. Meet your fellow Americans!

Finally, miniature golf is fun. When I stumble across regular golf on television, everyone – players, announcers, spectators – seems to be having a terrible time, squinting and frowning and speaking in sepulchral whispers.

Contrast them with the weekend miniature golfers at Chuckster’s out on Route 4. They are clearly having a great time. And I’ll bet they’d be happy to hear about the size of your amazing Inauguration Day crowd. They tend to be very polite people.

Happy vacation, Mr. President. Now, please, go away.

(“Monitor” columnist Katy Burns lives in Bow.)