It’s not a vacation

IT’S NOT A VACATION…. The good news is, the right has stopped obsessing over President Obama picking his favorites in the NCAA tournament. The bad news is, conservatives have moved onto something nearly as silly.

President Obama landed in Brazil Saturday to learn about its booming economy, but conservatives called the trip a distraction from worldwide turmoil. […]

“What is happening with the President while all of this is going on in the United States and around the world? He’s going on vacation. He’s going to Rio,” charged Steve Doocy, cohost of “Fox & Friends,” during Friday’s broadcast.

And The Washington Times fired off an editorial last week that declared “the President parties while the world burns.”

By some measures, those were some of the milder criticisms. Fox News’ Eric Bolling threw an on-air tantrum Friday night, insisting the president and his wife have been “spreading suntan lotion on each other” and “sipping caipirinhas on Air Force One — our Air Force One — while Rome burns.”

This may be hard for conservatives to understand — when they think “Brazil,” they think “Carnival” — but Latin America has many quickly growing economies, and Obama is visiting the region to promote trade and open markets. The point is to take steps that will strengthen the U.S. economy, which the right should at least pretend to care about.

What’s more, the visit was scheduled months ago. It’s not as if the president woke up Friday morning and thought, “Fire up Air Force One; I’m in the mood to see Rio.”

I can appreciate why the timing of the trip may seem inconvenient, but the logistics of presidential travel abroad are laborious, and canceling would have proven problematic. Besides, there are always weighty issues on a president’s to-do list, and if the White House had pushed off the Latin American visits until later in the year, there’d very likely be important developments going on then, too.

What we’re seeing from the right, then, is criticism for the sake of criticism. The discourse has reached the point at which Republicans and their media figures have to be whining about something at all times. Obama is stopping in Chile, Brazil, and El Salvador as part of a broader economic agenda, so the right feels the need to pretend to be outraged.

It’s quite sad.