By: Amy Lutz
Well, depending on the time of year, he could be just about anywhere. And our Commander in Chief isn’t shy about flaunting his frequent excursions either. Last week in Colombia, President Obama said, “Part of my job is to scout out where I may want to bring Michelle back later for vacation.” I wish that was just a joke. However, considering this president’s history of global trips, I doubt he was being facetious.
As of March 1st, the Obamas have taken 16 vacations and the President himself has hit the golf course over 90 times. Supposedly, President Obama’s most expensive trip occurred last December when he took his family to Hawaii for a Christmastime celebration. It is estimated that the entire trip cost roughly $4 million. And who footed a good chunk of the bill? That’s right, us. The Obamas’ expenditures on their seemingly monthly vacations fall heavily on the average taxpayer. Thinking about how much Michelle Obama’s 2010 trip to Spain cost makes me shudder. Taking a trip halfway across the world with “40 of your closest friends” can’t be that expensive, right? Ha, I think not.
Some on the left have remarked that both President George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan spent even more time on vacation during their first terms in office. However, it is not merely the frequency of President Obama’s trips that counts, it’s the lavishness and cost that truly matter. Presidents Bush and Reagan spent most of their vacation days at their respective ranches, often hosting several cabinet members. The Obamas, primarily Michelle, have darted all around the country (and the world for that matter), enjoying the “finer things in life.” New York City, Vail, South Africa, and Martha’s Vineyard have all hosted the First Family at one time or another. Even when they stay in the White House, the lavish parties do not disappear. For example, in 2009, the Obamas hosted a Halloween party at the White House complete with a dramatic Alice in Wonderland theme. Oh, and Johnny Depp, Tim Burton, and Chewbacca all made an appearance. And in other news, the economy is worse than ever.
Perhaps what bothers me most about the First Family’s choice of vacations and expenditures is the hypocrisy of it all. I’d be naïve to think that President Obama didn’t deserve to take a trip or swing a golf club every once in a while. And yes, I’ll concede that taxpayers have a duty to pay for the Secret Service (excluding some of their activities, of course), Air Force One, etc. President Obama certainly has one of the most stressful jobs in the world. Sometimes, he just deserves a break. Can you imagine what our country would look like if the President didn’t take time for himself? However, here’s what I can’t stand. Before and after the President returns from his lavish excursions, he lectures us about how we all need to “pay our fair share” and how the “rich are not paying enough.” Our nation is on a perpetual downward spiral. Is this really the best time to rub shoulders with Jack Sparrow or traipse across the smooth sands of Hawaii? I think not. In politics, perception is everything and it’s not looking good for the President. Right now, it’s hard to see past the blatant hypocrisy. Through the goggles of collective public perception, President Obama is a man who likes to enjoy luxury and then turns around and lectures other wealthy members of society for doing the same thing. Do me a favor, Mr. President. Next time you want to talk about the rich not paying their “fair share,” take a look at the mirror. Perhaps it’s time for a reality check.