Another Labor Day in Donald Trump’s presidency passed as Hurricane Dorian ravaged the Bahamas and threatened the U.S. Atlantic Coast, and the president blithely golfed at one of his clubs in Virginia, yet untouched by the latest natural catastrophe.

Television news outlets gave wall-to-wall coverage to Dorian as it brushed by Puerto Rico, where two years ago, in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria, the president had comforted its stricken residents by throwing paper towels to them, as if shooting basketballs.

The irrefutable evidence of the crisis wrought by climate change brought little to no presidential comment from Trump. Instead, he left scheduled overseas diplomatic chores to Vice President Mike Pence, who subbed for him over the holiday weekend in Poland and Ireland.

In so doing, Pence added to the ongoing criticism of the Trump’s abuse of his office to drive business to his hotels and resorts. According to Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, at the president’s “suggestion,” the large Pence traveling party stayed on the U.S. nickel at a Trump golf course and hotel in Ireland for two nights. It brought undetermined revenue to the Trump Organization and family.

With the president changing his weekend plans in deference to the hurricane, Short said, Pence had to alter his own schedule, keeping Trump’s meetings with Polish and Irish leaders. But in Ireland the whole party bedded down in the small town of Doonbeg, 150 miles away from Dublin on the Emerald Isle’s western coast.

The town happened to be an ancestral home of the Pence family, and Short declared it was “logical” for the large Pence party to take advantage of the Trump property’s suitable facilities for such a group.

But with the hourly cost of $13,000 for keeping the Air Force Two in the sky, it was a pricey diversion. According to Short, Vice President Pence did pick up the personal tab at Doonbeg for his wife, mother and other family members aboard. Nothing apparently was said of local relatives opening their doors as family members sometimes do.

It seemed not to occur to the Pence handlers, or their Trump superiors, that such routine diplomatic niceties in Ireland could have simply been canceled to save taxpayer money on what seemed a mere gift to the Pence family. Such are the other realities of federal officials’ willingness or insensitivity to spend taxpayers’ money on such wasteful and unnecessary boondoggles.

A sometime Republican critic of Trump, William Kristol, asked: “How much must Pence be worried about being dumped from the ticket (in 2020) to go to the lengths to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars at a Trump resort?”

It’s another indication of how the vice presidency has changed. As John Adams, the first vice president, so wisely observed of his functional

value in the early days of his incumbency: “In this I am nothing, but I may be everything.” His only defined responsibility beyond awaiting the president’s death or resignation was presiding over the Senate, with a vote only to break a tie.

Vice presidents long thereafter were kept in the dark on critical issues before the president. To that point, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s stand-in in 1945, Harry Truman, did not learn of the imminent existence of the atomic bomb until told of it in his own elevation to the Oval Office upon FDR’S sudden death.

Only in much later years, under President Jimmy Carter, was the vice president, Walter Mondale, given an office in the White House with near-complete access to Carter and all vital matters of state.

Most subsequent veeps have been kept informed, with a possible exception of Mike Pence, who gives every appearance of being left on the outside looking in during the imperial Trump presidency, and of not being too distressed about it. Under the chaos reigning in the White House, who can blame him?

Jules Witcover’s latest book is “The American Vice Presidency: From Irrelevance to Power,” published by Smithsonian Books. You can respond to this column at juleswitcover@comcast.net.

(26) comments

rikkitikkitavvi

Here is your Sunday reminder that the dems are everything they accuse the Right of being

frazed

[thumbup]

frazed

Trump golfs during a weather disaster in another country. Obama attends a communist baseball game in Cuba after the Brussels attacks. What is your point?

phydeaux994

How does a Communist baseball game differ from a Democracy baseball game? You’re kidding, right?

frazed

To respond to a stupid comment I thought that I would make mine just as stupid.

MRS M

Here's a point, frazed: Those Bahamians who lost everything when Dorian hit at a Cat. 5, are arriving in Palm Beach now after having been rescued by local Floridian rescuers with their own planes and boats, cruise ships in the area, and the men and women of the US Coast Guard, as well as physicians and medical personnel from the hospitals in Florida. But Palm Beach's most notable, prominent and selfish self-promoter and fund-raiser, Donald Trump, has no words or action to offer, other than taking another day off to cheat at his golf game. Mar-A-Lago was spared. (Thankfully, Alabama was spared! :-). And the high profile grifter and morally bankrupt ignoramus who spends his winters in Palm Beach (at tax-payer expense, no less)......has absolutely nothing to contribute. What relevance the Obama presidency has to do with the embarrassment of this presidency is lost to the majority of Americans, who find his lack of moral leadership and self-aggrandizing behavior in the face of human suffering, simply............pathetic.

MRS M

The oleaginous Pence (thanks Jennifer Rubin) is showing increasing subservience as word is that Ivanka and Jared are working to dump him in 2020, but only if the occupant of the Oval Office, who is crazier than an outhouse rat, can be persuaded. (Thanks Rick Wilson :-). This has gotta make all those Evangelical Pope Pence lovers so proud to have supported that greasy creep. Can't wait for 2020. America's had enough of the "Grand Old Party" to last many lifetimes. So THIS is what Making America Great was all about.......

jerseygrl42

so Jules, VP Pence is now an errand boy, do you think he runs to the store every day to get Trumps News Papers??...or how about a bottle of wine...oops I forgot, President Trump doesn't drink alcoholic beverages...so staying at a Trump facility is putting money in his pockets...is that what the media fools are left with now that we know the Russians aren't coming and the sky isn't falling ....how is it Jules that you never wrote a complementary comment about him forgoing $1.6 Million in salary???and how come you never wondered how obama came into office with about $4 Million in wealth and left with $40 Million on that same $400K salary he collected and that Trump is foregoing ....just more hypocrisy from the left....

rikkitikkitavvi

Doesn't fit their narrative or their agenda jersey.

Samanthapowers

russian bot. go home, comrade.

threecents

In Trumps defense, he has been distracted by the fake news about Alabama. Fake news doesn't just write itself, you know.

rikkitikkitavvi

No CNN does a great job of that every day.

frazed

[thumbup]

DickD

Better that Trump plays golf than tweet. And between Trump and Pence, Pence is the better one - not by much.

Dwasserba

"Nothing apparently was said of local relatives opening their doors as family members sometimes do." This made me think of that scene from "European Vacation" where the family moved in on a bewildered German family they thought were their relatives.

hayduke2

Golfing while folks are facing upheaval and destruction of property. Making government officials lie for him. Costing taxpayers huge amounts while pushing his property and making profits for his family. You can't make up how out of touch and dishonest this president is.

Samanthapowers

You’re gonna trigger a sycophant meltdown in 3,2,1....

rikkitikkitavvi

Did you whine when your messiah Obama did the same thing, except he flew to Hawaii? Want some cheese with that or you good?

Samanthapowers

you sycophants whined about barry's golf trips and the cost however look at how many rounds the orange stain has played and the associated cost for all his hatchlings to travel with the secret service? a national disgrace.

hayduke2

rikki - where's Trump today - out golfing while folks in NC and elsewhere are recovering. For accurate data to look at try https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/08/03/by-end-of-august-trump-will-have-spent-three-times-as-many-days-at-leisure-as-obama/ Of course, that doesn't fit you view so you'll make a bunch of junk up. [lol][lol][lol]

rikkitikkitavvi

WaPO? HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Samanthapowers

Pence is a (religious zealot) errand boy sent by a very simple grocery clerk to collect a bill. Don’t need a book to recognize that fact.

jerseygrl42

you should comic books

Samanthapowers

is jursy a russian bot?

rikkitikkitavvi

This is an obvious plug for the book. Did you have to pay for the advertising or did they pay you?

DickD

Don't ask, ric, because if you do, you can't afford it.

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