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The Obamas live the 1 percent

Published:

The Obamas live the 1 percent

    By Joseph  Curl

 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Being president of the U.S., the most powerful man in the world, is often  most about perception. The man (or, one day, woman) in the job takes actions  large and small every day, but it is the perception of the man that seeps into  the everyday lives of working Americans.

That’s why presidential candidates always hit Philadelphia for a cheesesteak  during campaigns (Democrats to Pat’s, Republicans to Geno’s). Sure, they’re  running billion-dollar operations trying to win the White  House, but one picture of them wolfing down a Cheez Whiz-covered glob of  meat on a Philly street hits home with millions of voters: “Hey, that guy’s just  like me! He loves him a Pat’s [or Geno’s] cheesesteak, too!” (Unless you’re John F. Kerry and order Swiss cheese — then  everyone hates you.)

Sometimes, that perception cuts to the core. Like when President George  W. Bush stopped playing golf in 2003, at the height of the Iraq War.

“I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal,” he said  years later. “I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the  commander in chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be in  solidarity as best as I can with them.”

That’s also why Mr. Bush did two other  things, without fanfare or praise. First, he never headed home to his Texas  ranch until after Christmas, instead going to  Camp David for a few days. That way, the hundreds of people revolving around him  at all times — White House staff, Secret  Service agents, reporters, photographers, all the others — could spend the  holiday with their families in and around Washington, D.C. No one ever reported  that — until this column.

Second, he rarely attended sporting events, although he once owned a baseball  team and was a self-confessed stats junkie. His thinking there was the same: If  he went to a baseball game (right down the street from the White  House), his mere presence would mean hours and hours of extra security for  fans. He once stopped off at the Daytona  500 and the metal detectors through which every fan had to pass left  thousands outside in line when the green flag fell; he didn’t attend many  sporting events after that.

But something remarkable has happened with these occupants of the White  House: Neither President Obama nor first lady Michelle appear to give a <snip> about perception.  They won the White House and, by God, they’re  going to enjoy their time there, no matter the cost. And who cares what you  think, anyway?

How else to explain the nonstop vacations the pair keep taking during what  Mr. Obama calls the “worst financial crisis since the Great Depression”? In  2013, the First Family has already enjoyed three vacations — that’s one a month.  (Sorry, Joe America, you might have to forget your week at the beach again this  year, but make sure you get those taxes in on time!)

The Obamas ended 2012 and kicked off 2013 in an $8 million, 6,000-square-foot  house in Hawaii (they left well before Dec. 25, by the way). There, the  president played five rounds of golf (breaking the 100-rounds-as-president  threshold). Scarcely a month into Term 2, Mrs. Obama headed off for Aspen,  taking along the couple’s daughters. Vice President Joseph R. Biden also hit the  Colorado slopes. While the girls (and Joe) were gone, Mr. Obama nipped down to  Florida for a four-day boys weekend of golf, teeing it up with his buddies — and  Tiger Woods. He hit the links again this  weekend, then dropped in for an NCAA tournament game in Washington.

Jumpin’ Joe, for his part, spent New Year’s in the Virgin Islands and popped  off over the Easter weekend for a golf outing at the glorious Kiawah Island,  S.C. (where rounds of golf on the spectacular Ocean Course run $353 — nearly $20  a hole). His third vacation of the year came the same week as reports that he  and his entourage spent $460,000 for a single night in London and $585,000 for a  night at a five-star hotel in Paris.

Then, last week, reports emerged that the Obama girls were kicking it in the  Bahamas for spring break. Days later, a Colorado news station, KMTV, reported  that the girls were now skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho. The White  House flacks didn’t like that one bit.

“From the beginning of the administration, the White House has asked news outlets not to report  on or photograph the Obama children when they are not with their parents and  there is no vital news interest,” said Kristina Schake, communications director  to the first lady. “We have reminded outlets of this request in order to protect  the privacy and security of these girls.”

At their demand, the station scrubbed the report without explanation. What  losers.

To be clear, this has nothing to do with the daughters. Never has. They are  wonderful girls. The issue is use of taxpayer money, especially since Mr. Obama  has shut down the White House to visitors,  citing the cost of security. All these trips cost millions for Secret  Service protection; couldn’t they just skip a few vacations so taxpayers  could visit “America’s House”?

But no, the Obamas don’t care a whit about that, or the perception of them  living high on the hog while many hardworking Americans are struggling to get by  — and hoping to save enough for just one vacation this year.

And that perception, juxtaposed with reality, more than nearly anything else,  tells you an awful lot about this president.

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/mar/31/curl-the-obamas-live-the-1-percent-life/#ixzz2PEdeU0Fp Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

Entry #488

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