Barack Obama’s Martha’s Vineyard vacation is unseemly. At a time when unemployment is near 10% and virtually all Americans have suffered losses in their home values and retirement funds, Obama’s holiday at a $20 million estate is inappropriate.
The White House is refusing to say how much the rental is for the “Blue Heron Farm,” but press reports indicate similar properties go for $35,000 to $50,000 a week.
Many Americans are currently having difficulty living within their means. What kind of example is Obama setting? His salary as President is $400,000. How can he afford this vacation when the rental alone is $35,000 to $50,000? Maybe it’s because Presidents now have a reasonable expectation of becoming rich upon leaving office, another regrettable development.
In February, Obama said, “You can’t get corporate jets. You can’t go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayer’s dime.” His comments led to the cancellation of hundreds of corporate meetings, most of which were not taxpayer funded, putting hundreds, if not thousands of people out of work.
Now, Obama takes his Boeing 747 up to Massachusetts and is helicoptered out to Martha’s Vineyard for a week at an exclusive retreat favored by the rich and famous. Of course, Presidential travel is expensive no matter where he goes, but the images of this trip are terrible. Certainly, he could have selected a more affordable destination, both for his family and the taxpayer. There are many very nice facilities located on military bases around the country. For instance Harry Truman made frequent use of the “Little White House” that was associated with the Key West Naval Station.
Obama’s choice of Martha’ Vineyard is telling. Maybe his campaign was never about empowering the disenfranchised. Maybe it was about further empowering the political class. All of his major proposals — from the stimulus plan to health care — have been presented in terms of relief for ordinary citizens, but have benefited political allies more.
The defining element of Obama’s career is his work as a “community organizer.” Roughly put, the job of a “community organizer” is to rally the have-nots against the haves, in hopes of the haves allowing a little more to the have-nots. There are no have-nots on Martha’s Vineyard. By retreating to this playground for rich, he undercuts his moral authority on issues of class and race.
Financial bubbles made possible a period of corporate executive excess, to the disgust of the public. The public sector is now in a bubble, with federal, state and local government spending expanding at a rate that cannot be sustained. Public officials — from Nancy Pelosi’s with her jets, Charles Rangel with his junkets, and now Barack Obama with his vacation — are exhibiting the same troubling blindness to appearances, not to mention reality.
This country is at war. Obama is flooding Afghanistan with troops. There are now 62,000 with 6,000 more on the way. More than 800 have died. Casualties will increase along with troop levels. The war is costing $4 billion per month. You would not know it from Obama’s over-the-top vacation that this is a time for sacrifice.
photo: AP/Wide World