Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Far be it from me to begrudge anyone the right to go on a pricey 2-week vacation, given the fact that I've taken no fewer than 3 such trips myself in the past year. But something about Michelle Obama's recent trip to Spain just struck me as a really wrong move at a really wrong time.
Nope, I'm not talking about the reality of an economic depression and 9.5% unemployment. If you got money, the recession's actually a come-up, because as a result of fewer people having money, lots of stuff gets dramatically cheaper. You can buy a brand new Buick for the price of an iPad right about now. Seriously. So it's silly to assume that just cause some other folks are suffering, you should. Like a wise man once said, when your neighbor loses his job, it's a cold. When you lose your job, it's an epidemic. Or something like that. As you can see, my analogy-game is still somewhere on Waikiki Beach.
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The wrong move/wrong time I'm referring to here is her husband's perilous standing with American voters, especially with his party (and likely, his ability to be anything other than a lame duck) facing a do or die situation come November. In short, everybody in the White House needs to be on their best behavior for a few more months till this sh*t tides over. Republicans will always be against him, Democrats will always be for him, but his approval among the very independent voters who decide elections is around 35% right now. And for that reason, and that reason alone, taking a high profile, high cost (although said cost was greatly inflated by pundits on the right) jaunt to Europe when your husband's approval numbers are approaching the Mendoza line just seems tone deaf.
[Editor's Admittedly Potentially Contradictory Note: Folks complaining about Obama and his wife being apart for his birthday are just silly. There's nothing notable about a 49th birthday. Nothing. Enough already.]
I know, plenty of prior First Ladies have taken pricier trips. I know, a grown assed woman is entitled to do whatever darn well she pleases. I know, Baby Sasha will only turn 9 years old once. I know, Obama's taken far fewer days than most prior Presidents at this point in his presidency. I know all that. Blah, blah, blah.
But you and I both know perception is reality, and if you're already battling the perception that you're out of touch and aloof, reality is you need to stay your a$$ at home. Take the kids to Chuck E. Cheese. Lay low. You know the rules. Would it have killed her to wait until after the election and take the very same trip over Christmas break? Really? Because call me nuts, but I'd think she'd catch far less flack then.
Michelle should know better. She's being viewed through a different prism and judged by a different set of rules than Laura Bush. There's no need to compare the two. The immediate, dramatic drop in her own personal approval ratings after this nonsensical trip are proof enough that "the American people" thought she should have stayed home, whether she was entitled to do so just on GP is irrelevant.
Perhaps the worst part of all this is that Michelle's personal likability ratings made her one of the few remaining members of this administration that wasn't a liability. This meant she could be thrown on the campaign trail this Fall to shore up support in areas where her husband might be met with more resistance. Now? Not so much.
Much like her husband's "hands off" approach to the Gulf oil spill, the family's ultra lame 27 hour "trip" to Florida, and their pending 10-day whopper of a vacation at Martha's Vineyard, I can't help but think that should Obama fail to get re-elected come 2012, it will have far more to do with PR-related crap like this trip to Spain than actual legislation.
And that would be a shame, but the Obamas would have nobody but themselves to blame.
Question: In retrospect, was taking this trip a good idea, regardless of whether or not Michelle has the right to do so? Would this have been a "lose-lose" proposition even if she'd gone to Cadiz, Kentucky instead of Cadiz, Spain?
First Lady Michelle Obama's popularity ratings plummet after Spain vacation with daughter Sasha [NYDailyNews]
 Whoever the heck "Real Americans" are. I've yet to meet one of em', personally.
 "GP" = "General Principle" for those who are 90's slang illiterate. Just in case.