President Bush Has Made Telecommuting Work For Him

During the president's August vacation at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, it seems George W. Bush has embraced the concept that 'work is not a place'. President Bush and his staff were hard at work on matters of national importance despite their absence from The White House for the month.

"I'm getting a lot done," he told reporters traipsing after him in the dusty little outpost of Crawford, Tex., last month. "You don't have to be in Washington to work. It's amazing what can happen with telephones and faxes." He is even videoconferencing.

When asked if it's been more difficult to work out here the president said "No, it's just the same. You know, when you pick up the phone and you call de la Rua to talk to him about Argentina, it's -- it may be a different hookup, but it's the same voice. As a matter of fact, in some ways, this place is better for work-- this place allows for more in-depth discussions. Condoleezza [Rice]and I spend a lot of time just sitting around visiting about our foreign policy matters." The president then described how his routine there was similar to being in Washington: "I got up at 5:45 a.m., read all the stuff I needed to read, and then took off at about 7 a.m. with a little run, got back to the house about 7:45 a.m. and we had a CIA briefing on the porch for an hour, and a national security briefing. Both of them took an hour. Then we came down here."

Mr. Bush's ranch is equipped with state-of-the-art telecommunications (miles of fiber-optic cable lines were laid down to his ranch), and has a remote telecenter in double-wide trailers for his staff temporarily located outside the gates of the ranch.

While in Crawford the president toured the Crawford Elementary School and spoke about how the blurred line between work and vacation has gone with the territory of being president "See, the thing about the President is, you're always the President and there's always an issue, and somebody is always calling and somebody needs to visit and somebody is flying into town to come by to sit down and talk about variety of issues. And so it's just like I moved my office from the Oval Office right out here to Crawford and I'm glad I did. I love being here."

From the ranch the president held conference calls with his personnel office back in Washington and discussed the recommended names to fill a number of appointments. He held a major press conference and discussed defense matters. He signed two bills: one agriculture bill and one emergency farm aid bill. And from the Crawford Community Center the president and Secretary Defense Don Rumsfeld named General Richard Myers as the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and General Pete Pace as the new vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

Bush returned to Washington at the beginning of September and resumed work there, and he plans to return to his Crawford ranch for a mid-November summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin and for the holidays. Bush's vacation showed how work is not a place as his father, the first President Bush informed the nation in 1990: "Sometimes the best transportation policy means not moving people, but moving their work, a trend known as telecommuting," he said. "Think of it as commuting to work at the speed of light."