Children of Liberty: Let’s take another vacation!Written by Thomas Berry | | firstname.lastname@example.org
President Obama and the First Lady are taking a lot of flak for their frequent vacations. There have been five already this year; most recently, Michelle and daughter Sasha took a dandy quarter-million-dollar jaunt to Spain’s ritzy Costa del Sol.
Obama supporters of course reply to this criticism by citing former President George W. Bush’s frequent vacations, which consisted mostly of 487 days at Camp David and 490 at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.
However, the comparison is flawed. Bush’s vacations were largely working vacations, as presidents before him have taken. The nation’s business gets taken care of, just in a different environment. Presidential residences west of Washington weren’t called “Western White Houses” because of the paint; the Johnson, Nixon, Reagan and George W. Bush residences were all given the nickname because the President was on the job while there. President Ford’s “The Lodge” getaway at Vail, Colorado, also was given the designation. Indeed, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu was the Western White House while FDR was there briefly during World War II, and Nixon also had a Southern White House at Key Biscayne, Florida. Gee, I wonder why the wherever-White House handle hasn’t been applied to the Obamas’ vacation digs, be they in Hawaii (they were there again last Christmas and New Years), Chicago or Bar Harbor, Maine.
Maybe the President was truly on vacation, as in not working. Which leads to the real complaint against the Obama vacations. Although the President most definitely needs vacations, Obama’s are blissfully unseemly. Consider the Obama family’s post-election stay in Hawaii. In his victory speech, he said, “This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.” (In the same speech, he also said, “And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. And I will be your President too.” More on that later.)
The next month, he was demonstrating that spirit of sacrifice at a $3,500 per night Hawaiian resort while millions of his fellow Americans were forced to sacrifice at Christmas because of the recession and the mortgage crisis. While the Obamaniacs wax wroth over Bush’s vacation days, I’d bet lunch that, all else being equal, his trips cost a lot less than Obama’s extravaganzas. Even though taxpayers pay only part of the tab, that comparison should be made sometime, given Obama’s urging that the rest of us sacrifice – not to mention his promise of transparency. Then there’s one of his more cliched promises, “I will not rest until . . .”
As I already pointed out, evidence is lacking that Obama’s vacations are working vacations in the spirit of his predecessors. Little if anything that the “I will not rest until” line prefaces has been accomplished. Yet there he is, resting over and over while his promises fail. And there’s the unseemliness. Regardless of how badly he needs a break, there is an in-your-face pretentiousness, a smugly arrogant sense of entitlement, to all this. I’m not the only hard-working American who is getting tired of being told by people who take multi-tens-of-thousands-of-dollars vacations that I have to sacrifice and cut back. I’m not the only one who is getting frustrated at seeing a President claim to not rest until something is done and then go take a rest somewhere as his promises languish – not that their languishing is a bad thing.
I’m not bemoaning the Obamas’ right to spend their money as they please – so long as it’s their money and not mine. It’s the calling everyone else to cut back while they do so. It’s called leading by example. Don’t go globetrotting on fabulous vacations while telling me that I have to do without. President Carter, for all his faults, at least had this principle right when he donned a cardigan while lecturing us about conserving energy. Given the Obamas’ penchant for inappropriateness, such as Michelle wearing $549 sneakers while feeding the homeless, it is truly a fell omen of how far we’ve declined when I think fondly of the Carter years. Those of us who are fortunate enough to get a vacation are forced into “staycations” – a term that, ironically, can be applied to Bush’s vacations – while the First Family can live it up to their heart’s content.
That’s my president, all right – jetting off to some resort while us serfs and peons sacrifice and scrimp.
Thomas Berry, for the Children of Liberty