It was fortunate that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was on Nantucket over the July 4 weekend when his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, took ill with what was thought to be a seizure. (She was being evaluated in a Boston hospital Wednesday and was said to be improving.) Some Republican politicians and pundits had taken umbrage that the secretary of state was on vacation on the island when Egypt was in turmoil -- again. Even worse, the secretary was seen yachting.
This foolish controversy recalls the dismay over photos of then-Senator Kerry windsurfing during his presidential campaign. Apparently windsurfing and yachting are seen as effete by faux-macho types who may never have fought in a foreign war, as did Mr. Kerry. If the secretary of state had been barreling around in a gas-guzzling speedboat, as former President George H.W. Bush did during his Maine vacations, the critics might have been appeased by this manly display.
Hypocrites who were untroubled when George W. Bush took record amounts of presidential vacation time to clear brush in Texas are infuriated when President Obama, or his secretary of state, take a few days off. Thanks to smartphones and other digital wonders, Americans remain linked to their jobs while on vacation, and it would be safe to assume that applies double to a vacationing president or secretary of state. Surely, Mr. Kerry could be reached if needed, even on his yacht.
And what exactly was the secretary of state supposed to do about the coup in Egypt? The United States is not the boss of the world, as we were reminded painfully by the Iraq War. Washington can urge Egyptians to stop the bloodshed and return to the democratic path, but what happens for good or ill in Egypt is entirely up to Egyptians. Mr. Kerry's Nantucket vacation would not have changed that.