The Presidency is a job. It is a 24/7 challenge that most human beings could not handle. The proof of this is readily displayed by every president ever photographed. Look at the before and after. Countless gray hairs, wrinkles, dark circles – those are all the remnants of four to eight years spent in the Oval Office. Everyone accepting the role understands what they are taking on. However, during the four years of the Obama presidency, it has seemed as though there is always a good reason to take vacation after vacation, putting it on the tab of the U.S. taxpayer. Holding the most essential job on the planet does not come with extended leisure time.
Apparently, the Obama’s never got the memo.
It began just months after Barack Obama was inaugurated. During the campaign, Obama had promised Michelle that, if he won, he would take her on a date. Well, this may have turned into the most expensive date in world history. First, they climbed aboard a Gulfstream jet in Washington, while two other planes followed with an entourage of media, staff and security. Once landed in New York City, they were flown in helicopters to a helipad in downtown Manhattan, followed by transportation to a chic NYC restaurant and a Broadway show. The play, interestingly enough, was called “Come and Gone”, about black migration from the South to the North in the early 20th century. Afterward, they returned to Washington exactly the way they arrived. Estimated total cost: $24,000 per aircraft and over $11,000 for secret service. However, the White House made it clear the Obama’s paid for dinner and the Broadway tickets with their own money.
Well then, that makes it all better!
At a time when we were in a deep recession, plummeting toward a depression, the president spent tens of thousands of dollars on a date. This was, and still remains, inconceivable.
In August 2010, Michelle Obama loaded her youngest daughter onto the family jet, again on our dime, for a glamorous family trip to Spain. However, there were some other guests enjoying the free vacation as well – two of Michelle’s friends and four of their daughters. Ultimately, the trip cost us $467,585. The flights alone accounted for nearly half that total. It took two years and a lawsuit for the watchdog group, Judicial Watch, to uncover the costs from this trip. The Obama Administration, as it so often has, did its best to prohibit access to documents proving their wrongful actions. Again, the vision of Michelle Obama walking the streets of Spain while so much struggling was occurring back at home was a damaging one.
In June of 2011, Michelle Obama took a trip to Africa, where her purpose was to encourage young Africans to be active in their governments and also to push her wellness agenda. Valiant effort, but the price tag and details of this trip are maddening. According to Judicial Watch, the seven-day trip to Africa cost the U.S. taxpayers more than $424,142, which doesn’t even include meals, lodging or ground transportation in Africa. This trip was much more than a show of goodwill – it was a family safari. Included on the list of 21 trip members were the Obama’s two daughters, Michelle’s mother, her niece and nephew and both her makeup and hairstylist. The list itself identified the Obama’s daughters as “senior staff”. Questionable, at best.
In August of 2011, when the nation had just had its first credit rating downgrade in U.S. history and with unemployment staying steadily above 9%, the Obama’s decided to get away on a 10-day vacation to Martha’s Vineyard. Not wanting to wait, Michelle and their daughters left at 2:00 PM instead of waiting until the evening when President Obama could leave himself. In order to do it, she took a specially designed military aircraft and left Air Force One behind for her husband, which added over $100,000 extra dollars to the vacation cost. President Obama arrived just hours later, where they laid their heads at a $50,000 per week estate. Though no official bill was released, the cost to taxpayers was estimated to be in the millions.
In December, 2011, the Obama family decided to take 17-day vacation to Oahu, Hawaii. At the time, President Obama was in the midst of a payroll tax battle with Congress. Because of this, Michelle and the girls AGAIN refused to wait for him to finish his work. They left separately, adding an extra $100,000+ to the trip. The Hawaii Reporter showed that the cost of a similar Hawaii trip the Obama’s had taken in 2010 rung up a taxpayer bill of over $1,500,000. That was child’s play compared to the 2011 trip. The Obama’s did pick up the tab for their beach-front rental, at $3,500 per night. According to the Hawaii Reporter in 2011, the total cost exceeded $4,000,000 to the taxpayers. Cue the steam flying out of every reader’s ears.
In February of 2012, Michelle Obama took their daughters on an Aspen, Colorado weekend skiing trip, making it the 16th vacation the family had taken in just over three years. There, they stayed at the home of the Aspen Skiing Company owner, but that didn’t do much to minimize the cost. The final tab for trip #16 landed at $83,183, which included secret service, air transportation and car rentals. They managed to also add $235 for in-flight food and magazines. The names of other people in attendance were redacted from the list, aside from Michelle’s personal assistant and her “style advisor”.
At the same time as these vacations were occurring, President Obama was telling the public things like “If you’re a family trying to cut back, you might skip going out to dinner, you might put off a vacation” and “Just like every family in America, the federal government has to …live within its means.” Along with all the four-letter words flowing through your head (and possibly out of your mouth), the obvious term that comes to mind is “hypocrite.”
In the grand scheme of things, vacations, golf and shooting the (fill in the blank) with talk show hosts instead of meeting with world leaders may seem minimal. Add it all to the big picture, and you see why. This is a failure in leadership. This is a failure in respecting the citizens of this country, particularly the ones who provide the taxes to pay for the extravagance. This is a blatant example of the complete disregard for anything but selfishness. In essence, this is the failure of upholding the very esteem of the office itself.
Actions speak much louder than words.