So, I’m watching the Cowboys-Lions game this weekend and, since it’s FOX covering the game, you know there’s going to be a lot of shots of Dallas’ eponymous owner, Jerry Jones. And there was, but it was a huge game and Jerry had a friend with him this time.
New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie.
Predictably, the Twitter reaction was enormous. With New Jersey being the home of the ironically-named New York Giants, many of us wondered why on Earth Christie would allow himself to be seen with Jerry Jones on national TV — let alone celebrating like a horny walrus. But alas, there was another reaction I didn’t see coming that I really should have.
Who paid for his round-trip to Dallas? Is Jones currying favors from him via this “gift?” (That would be highly illegal.) Did he use taxpayer money for his security detail? Someone investigate!
Well, I’m no fan of the Governor, and quite the opposite of him politically, but I have absolutely no problem with his mini-vacation. In fact, there seems to be a lot of complaining these last several years about government officials going on vacation at all. What’s the big deal?
I’m sure vacations such as Presidential retreats have always been easy political fodder, but it seems these have become major issues starting with George W. Bush and his overwhelmingly high number of “days off.” While it’s true that Bush’s holidays added up to well over 2 full years, a President is never really on vacation. The President represents the executive branch, and generally their off-time coincides with Congress’s. There’s not much to do when legislation is not in motion. (Which it usually never is, sadly.) the occasional key decision can easily be made from a golf course as much as a meeting room.
Nowadays, Republicans are constantly harassing President Obama for his trips to Hawaii. Again, it’s easy fodder: look, look, he’s not working and so much is wrong in the world! It’s not his fault he was born in a far-away paradise rather than Texas. The best part is when we start getting dollar figures for the trips and they do cost MILLIONS OF DOLLARS most of the time.
Look, whether you’re President of the United States or even the Governor of a small state, security is necessary and the logistics involved are going to be far more complicated than your road trip to Disneyland. Chris Christie can’t just squeeze into the family minivan and drive his way to Dallas after all. He needs to get there quickly and securely (private jet), he needs plenty of security guards (protection from deranged people), and a secure hotel room protected from sabotage (not Motel 6). Grabbing a meal at McDonald’s is impossible to coordinate, so accommodating (and expensive) restaurants are a must. Everyone involved has to be fed, too. If you’re the President, a route between locations must be secured by dozens of Secret Service. Plans may get altered and issues will arise, but the security of our commander-in-chief is paramount especially in these hostile times. We can all agree on this, right? And it gets expensive. Surely, they’ve earned a break. (Hey now.)
These costs just have to be accepted as part of the position. To put it in perspective, look at the salaries earned for these positions. The President of the United States makes $400,000 a year. That’s $100,000 less than the Major League Baseball minimum player’s salary! That’s an absurdly low amount for the most stressful job in the world. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, earned $74,000,000 in 2013 alone for running a relatively tiny company in comparison! And what did he give us in that time? Custom iOS keyboards.
Christie earns $175,000 in annual salary. Software architects can earn more than that and they play on computers all day long. So, why are we getting up in arms about these guys taking a break? It’s not their fault they need so much protection and I’m sure they’d rather just be alone with their families if they could. Do you honestly believe they want to travel with 150 of their co-workers on their romantic Hawaiian getaway? Highly doubtful.
So, when you see Governor Christie blowing off some steam catching an NFL playoff game with the teams’ owner in a luxury suite, give the guy a break. It’s a perk of the job for having to deal with people like me analyzing and writing about him all day long. Now, explaining to Giants fans why you were holding their championship trophy on a parade float in 2012 may be another matter.