There’s been some news coverage recently of President Obama’s upcoming trip to Africa. The mainstream media, no less, has questioned the projected cost of the First Family’s vacation to the continent this month: Seems the estimate runs close to $100 million for one little summer getaway.
Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, claims that it’s a working vacation. The President will meet “with a wide array of leaders from government, business and civil society, including youth, to discuss our strategic partnership on bilateral and global issues.” Does that sound like gobbledygook to you? No names or agenda, just enough info to make it sound like the price tag is worth it.
So, why are Michelle and the girls tagging along if it’s not a family vacation? For the Tanzanian safari or the trip to Robben Island, off the coast of Cape Town, where Nelson Mandela was held as a political prisoner? Yup, that and a night in Dakar, two in Johannesburg, and another in Dar es Salaam.
Pretty exotic summer jaunt for Sasha and Malia. Not so much for Michelle: She’s been to South Africa and Botswana before, at a cost to the taxpayers of $424,000 — chump change compared with this outing. Pretty outrageous when you consider that most American taxpayers are still struggling mightily, college graduates are chronically unemployed, and the outlook for economic recovery continues to be tepid at best.
Here’s some silliness to digest: The average family of four could take a vacation to Disney World, stay in a great hotel onsite, enjoy access to all the theme parks and water parks, and eat like pigs for 91 years before they’d spend 100 million bucks. Or, a family of four could buy the best seats in Citizen’s Bank Park and enjoy no fewer than 3,858 years of home games. (Maybe long enough to see another World Series win!)
See how hard it is to get a sense of how insane this figure is? Especially in light of the hardships and cutbacks of the sequester. Consider $100 million on a vacation when this Obama brainchild has forced the cancellation of White House tours because they cost a paltry $18,000 a week but can still find dough for really important things like the chief of staff to the president’s dog ($102,000 per year). Or, even more tragically, consider the understaffed firefighting teams in Colorado working to contain devastating wildfires that have claimed the lives of five firefighters so far. The sequester has cut $50 million from the federal firefighting budget, which has led to 500 fewer firefighters in their ranks. Wait, make that 505.
Am I suggesting that Michelle grab a hose and a Slip ’N Slide and set them up in the backyard? Well, why not — it seems good enough for many hard-working folk in this country. And think of the message it would send — now wouldn’t that be presidential!