This Christmas season, as an increasing number of American children wrote letters to Santa Claus asking for necessities instead of toys, the American people can rejoice that at least one family has not floundered upon hard times. The Obamas spared the taxpayer no expense to live it up on a Hawaiian vacation during the seven days of Kwanzaa. The (UK) Daily Mail reported that on New Year’s Day alone, Obama required a 20-man, 10-vehicle motorcade through closed roadways so he could visit an old friend. The small fleet trailed the president from his rental property in Kailua to Bobby Titcomb’s beachfront home. This was perhaps the most overt and least egregious example of the first family’s self-indulgence at your expense.
The Hawaiian Reporter, which had the story before anyone, estimated the known expenditures of the trip alone cost at least $1,754,200 — not including unknown expenses. The paper breaks things down thus:
- Mrs. Obama’s early flight to Hawaii: $63,000 (White House Dossier)
- Obama’s round trip flight to Hawaii: $1 million (GAO estimates)
- Housing in beachfront homes for Secret Service and Seals in Kailua ($1,200 a day for 14 days): $16,800
- Costs for White House staff staying at Moana Hotel: $134,400 ($400 per day for 24 staff) – excluding meals and other room costs
- Police overtime: $250,000 (2009 costs reported by Honolulu Police Department)
- Ambulance: $10,000 (City Spokesperson)
- TOTAL COST: $1,474,200
- Rental of office building in Kailua on canal
- Security upgrades and additional phone lines
- Costs for car rentals and fuel for White House staff staying at Moana Hotel (Secret Service imports most of the cars used here to escort the president)
- Surveillance before the president arrives
- Travel costs for Secret Service and White House staff traveling ahead of the President
Editor’s note per a reader – add another $280,000: Hawaii Reporter was informed that we left out a major expense from this report.
Another unknown cost is how the president’s visit negatively impacted local businesses. The Daily Mail reported the Obamas’ visit shut down Dillingham Airfield. “Bill Star, one the operators of Original Glider Rides, lamented the lost business as it was the first day of excellent weather this week.” Obamanomics at work.
Ironically, as the president lounged at beachside, his sycophantic advisers presented him as a restless advocate for the people. Valerie Jarrett told Meet the Press last weekend Obama had to “spend almost every waking hour in Washington focusing very hard on solving that [economic] crisis” (which he also spent every waking hour creating). The Washington Examiner‘s Byron York reported that Obama had in fact spent nearly half his time in office outside the Beltway. Barack Obama had been president 712 (excruciating) days as of yesterday. York reported, “According to figures compiled by CBS News reporter Mark Knoller, who serves as a sort of unofficial White House record-keeper, Obama has spent 339 of those days — nearly 48 percent — outside Washington.” However, only 45 of those days passed without a public event or statement to keep Obama before television cameras.
None of this counts the first family’s penchant for self-indulgence at other times. One is forced to think of the first lady’s $75,000-a-day trip to Spain, followed by a 10-day family vacation to Martha’s Vineyard (with a 26-hour “vacation” to the Gulf Coast thrown in).
Merely being in Washington does not mean Obama is actually working. NBC Sports reports Barack Obama has played nearly twice as much golf in two years as President George W. Bush played in eight. Obama hit the links 56 or 57 times over the last two years, while Dubya played 32 rounds from 2001-2009. The sportscasters announced the president’s prodigious putting exceeds the number of rounds in which of many employees in the golf industry indulge. The Golf Channel’s Kelly Tilghman said, “That’s more than I’ve played in the last ten years combined!”
Thankfully, Obama is not a one-dimensional loafer. After an injury requiring a dozen stitches, Obama reassured a breathless country, “I will continue to be playing basketball whenever I get a chance.”
The media have not analyzed the president’s inattention to work, promiscuous expenditure of tax dollars on leisure, or exacting exercise regimen quite as it assessed his predecessor’s habits. In the previous administration, the press ridiculed President Bush’s “obsession with exercise that borders on the creepy,” deriding it as a lingering symptom of alcoholism. Incidentally, Barack Obama confessed marijuana and cocaine use in his 1995 autobiography Dreams from my Father. “Pot had helped, and booze,” he wrote; “maybe a little blow [cocaine] when you could afford it.”
Whatever the origin of the president’s generous sense of free time and habitual participation in sports, one thing is clear: he has no similar esteem for the hard-earned dollars of his taxpaying subjects.
America cannot afford to give Obama Fore! more years.
Photo Credit: Barack Obama Creative Commons