Nationally Lampooned Vacations

By Zandar
Friday, April 27, 2012 8:03 EDT
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Conservatives continue to attack Michelle Obama as proxy to her husband, this time over the idea that in a bad economy, the Obama family shouldn’t dare go anywhere lest they draw the ire of swing state voters in Republican focus groups.

“They view everything through their own personal situation and if they can’t afford to do it, they can’t enjoy it, they don’t like Obama using their tax dollars to benefit himself,” said pollster John McLaughlin. “In this case, they see him as out of touch. While they are struggling he’s not sharing in that struggle and he’s basically doing what they can’t do on their tax dollars,” added the GOP pollster.

He and several other top-tier Republican pollsters, organized by Resurgent Republic, traveled to 11 battleground states to host focus groups of independent and swing voters, mostly Democrats, who voted for President Obama in 2008 but who are now on the fence.

McLaughlin handled blue collar and Catholic voters in Pittsburgh on April 3 and Cleveland on March 20. He found that they are very depressed about the economy and feel that their tax dollars are being sucked up by both the rich and those living on government assistance.

During the focus group discussions about debt and spending cuts, many in his group volunteered criticism of the presidential vacations as something that should be cut. Among the lines McLaughlin wrote down was one from a Democratic woman who said, “Michelle Obama spends $1 million to take the kids to Hawaii,” and another who said, “President Obama was the only president to take so many trips.”

The theme, said McLaughlin, is that the first family “is out of touch” with working class voters.

What the focus groups are really proving is that the FOX News style propaganda attacks on our “uppity” First Family who should “know their place” and not be so “lazy” and “go on vacation so much” are working with the intended target, at least to some extent.  The First Lady in particular has been savaged for spending “millions” on pricey vacations and top-shelf fashions, all supposedly on the taxpayer dime.

There are two things wrong with it.  One, the costs include security for the First Family, and given the unalloyed hatred these assholes have for the Obamas, I’d say that security is pretty necessary, possibly more necessary that with any other residents of the White House before them.  Second of all, President Obama and Michelle Obama have still taken far less vacations than the Bush family preceding them.  Laura Bush took yearly trips to Yosemite National Park with family friends and Secret Service protection.  The total cost of just the White House trips to the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas?  Some $20 million for just the plane costs.

President Bush took 149 trips to Camp David, 77 visits to his Crawford ranch, and 11 trips to his father’s Kennebunkport mansion. Since Air Force One reportedly cost $56,800 per hour to operate in 2004 (which Bush used to get to Crawford), and the plane can travel up to 630 miles per hour, it cost at least $259,657 to get the 2,880 miles to Crawford and back, each time Bush went, or roughly $20 million dollars just for taking the plane on the Crawford trips alone. Add in the cost of putting up Secret Service and other staff for the ranch trips, as well as the Kennebunkport and Camp David trips, and you get, well, a lot.

But that’s okay, because it’s not like Bush crashed our economy or anything while he was busy clearing brush.  There’s one big difference in Presidential history when it comes to the Obama family, and that’s what these Republican pollsters are pushing among working-class Democrats, trying to get them to abandon the President for being too “elitist” and instead vote for the guy worth a quarter-billion dollars with the multiple vacation homes and cars…or not vote at all.

But don’t you dare bring the issue of race into it.

Zandar is ABLC's Cincinnati-area correspondent, covering Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana politics and all the nearly endless unintentional comedy the Tri-State area brings. He's proprietor of Zandar vs. The Stupid, where he's been blogging since 2008, and you can also find him at Balloon Juice and The Reaction as a contributor, or you can yell at him on Twitter at @ZandarVTS.
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