WASHINGTON, March 27, 2013 — In a time of belt-tightening and the sequester’s damage on American families, questions are being raised on the Right about President Obama’s vacations, particularly the cost.
Surprisingly, it is something that some on the Left are asking as well. In tough economic times, watching the President fly to Florida to play golf with Tiger Woods last month, for instance, doesn’t sit well with people on both sides of the political fence. After all, perception is often reality. It seems like the President was saying to the American people: “Let them eat cake.”
First off, yes, the President of the United States needs vacations, probably much more than most of us, and it doesn’t matter what political party he’s from. Just look at the greying of the presidents after only a few years in office and you know the kind of stress they live with day to day. So, yes, they need time off, even as they carry the burden of Commander-in-Chief no matter where in the world they escape.
President Obama heads off to Hawaii for his winter hiatus, his birth place and where he grew up. So that makes sense, even if we are all a little green with envy at a vacation in paradise. In the summer, he usually goes to Martha’s Vineyard just off Cape Cod.
President Bush always headed to his Texas ranch, where he seemed to find relaxation clearing brush (as had President Reagan on his California ranch) and driving his pick up around his land. He rarely went anywhere else than his ranch.
But there was something about golfing with Tiger Woods that showed that President Obama had a tin ear and his deft political skills had deserted him when he made the decision to fly down for a three-day weekend in Palm City, Fla. for a round of golf and a few pointers with the golf legend at an exclusive golf club.
We can only guesstimate the cost, and the figures vary wildly, but probably the biggest expense of at least $80,000 is for police and Secret Service protection. And it is not cheap to fly Air Force and the staff to Florida. Then there is the lodging costs to factor in as well.
There is no denying that the President, no matter who he is, deserves a three-day weekend, as we all do. And the figures tossed around by the likes of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh border on the ludicrous, fodder for the Right. But legitimate questions were raised by ABC’s Jonathan Karl during a White House news conference earlier this month. One clearly that irked Jay Carney (see video below).
So let’s ask ourselves: Would President Obama have flown down to Miami to shoot a few hoops with the Heats’ LaBron James? Doubtful. But what’s the difference? Obama loves both sports. He needed a break. And Florida is warmer than Washington, D.C. in the winter. Wiser heads would have told him that when we are barely climbing out of the recession, such a trip looks frivolous.
If President Obama wanted some time to unwind, why couldn’t Tiger Woods have flown to the White House for an overnight in the Lincoln Bedroom (who could resist that invitation) and given some pointers or return later this year for 18 holes on the same golf course Obama and Republican Speaker John Boehner played on in 2011, the Joint Base Andrews’ golf course in Maryland?
In good economic times, flying to Florida for a golf date with Tiger wouldn’t cause us to give it a second thought, but when the White House tours are closed to school kids to save $74,000 a week, a presidential getaway on the taxpayer’s dime shows that the President and his advisors were truly politically tone deaf.
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