Monday, August 9, 2010

Wrong White House signals...

There are many things that are happening within the White House these days that puzzle me and none more than the activities of the First Family this past week.  It was the President’s 49th Birthday last Wednedsay and what did his wife and younger daughter do to celebrate?  They hopped on Air Force Two with 40 “close friends” and jetted off to the Costa del Sol in southern Spain for a sight-seeing vacation.  Twelve-year old daughter Malia is in a sleepover camp so the President was left alone to celebrate by himself in his own way--off to Chicago to have dinner with friends (and Oprah?) and a basketball game with NBA stars.  (No comment.)
We hear that Michelle’s party took over at least a third of a luxury hotel, the Hotel Villa Padiema, in Marbella with rooms apparently going for about $2500 per night.  The party was reportedly taking about 60 rooms in the posh hotel, but I read somewhere that her “close friends” were expected to pay for their own rooms.  You and I will foot the bill for Air Force Two and also the costs of the 70-plus Secret Service personnel that protect her and Michelle's personal staff.
The publicity and news about this Vacation Away has not been kind nor should it have been.  Andrea Tantaros in the Daily News blog titled her reporting of the story, “Material girl Michelle Obama is a modern-day Marie Antoinette on a  glitzy Spanish vacation.”  Ouch.  “Let them eat cake” comes to mind.
The beginning of her article says it all:  [Here
Sacrifice is something that many Americans are becoming all too familiar with during this economic downturn. It was a key theme in President Obama's inaugural address to the nation, and he's referenced it numerous times when lecturing the country on how to get back on its feet.
But while most of the country is pinching pennies and downsizing  summer sojourns - or forgoing them altogether - the Obamas don't seem to be heeding their own advice. While many of us are struggling, the First Lady is spending the next few days in a five-star hotel on the chic Costa del Sol in southern Spain with 40 of her "closest friends." 
The Daily News blog was picked up in papers around the country.  The LATimes quoted it [here] and even Maureen Dowd, who has given Michelle a free pass for most of the time she has been First Lady, mentioned Tantaros by name and waded into the story in her Sunday NYTimes column
One liberal blogger (Roger Simon of PajamasMedia.) called the scale of the trip with her 40 “close friends” renting a third of a posh hotel and causing a public beach to be closed off  “...  beyond tone deaf, perhaps to the level of subconscious (or even deliberate) self-sabotage.”  [Here]
This is an example of that curious streak of Obama’s political ineptitude that we have discussed before.  I really have no opinion about a couple not celebrating a birthday together.  Folks do all sorts of strange things in marriages, even the loving ones with caring relationships.  What I do mind is this ostentatious glitz when people back home--some who are paying a chunk of the tab--are hurting.  Roger Simon is right to say that this is “beyond tone deaf.”  Callousness and self-involvement are bitter herbs for any political stew and they make a deadly poison for a politician.  
Michele should learn to think before she plans these junkets.  Maybe asking herself, “what would Eleanor have done?” might help.  
It certainly worked for Hillary...  

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