Blue-collar voter resentment building over Obama vacations?

posted at 3:21 pm on April 27, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

It’s a tempting target against a demagogue who insists on making “fairness” an issue in every speech he makes, but will attacking Barack Obama over the costs of his family’s 17 vacations in three years resonate with voters?  The Washington Examiner reports on some focus-group testing performed by Republican pollsters among blue-collar Democrats in Ohio and Pennsylvania, two important battleground states, who claim that resentment is building over what is seen as a lavish lifestyle at taxpayer expense:

Blue collar Democratic voters, stuck taking depressing “staycations” because they can’t afford gas and hotels, are resentful of the first family’s 17 lavish vacations around the world and don’t want their tax dollars paying for the Obamas’ holidays, according to a new analysis of swing voters. …

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.

The pollsters conducted their focus-group testing well before Judicial Watch calculated the cost to taxpayers of just one of those vacations, Michelle Obama’s in Spain.  That trip cost nearly a half-million dollars to service the needs of the Obamas and their several guests:

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and fights government corruption, announced today that it obtained documents from the United States Air Force and the United States Secret Service detailing costs associated with Michelle Obama’s controversial August 2010 vacation to Spain.  According to a Judicial Watch analysis, the records indicate a total combined cost of at least $467,585. …

  • According to U.S. Department of Defense’s 2010 published hourly rates, the total cost of flying Michelle Obama and her guests from Camp Andrews to Malaga and then to Mallorca and back to the United States was $199,323.75. This is based on approximately 17 hours and 15 minutes of total flying time.
  • The 15-member flight crew stayed at Tryp Guadalmar, a nearby motel. Lodging cost was $10,290.60 and car rental cost was $2,633.50. Food cost was $876.30, including $57.68 for four bottles of maple syrup and a package of pancake mix. …

Secret Service records, meanwhile, show that the costs to the agency for the vacation were $254,461.20. This total includes $26,670.61 for a chauffeur tour of Costa del Sol and $50,078.78 for a travel planning company SET P&V, S.L. (George Soros is 50% owner of the travel company.) Taxpayers also paid the bill for separate lodging for a dog and its handler.

In August 2010, Michelle Obama, her daughter and friends embarked on what the press described as a “whirlwind tour of Spain,” which included visits to the coastal towns, shopping and a lunch date with the country’s King and Queen.  While the White House claims the Obamas “paid their own way” for the vacation, the records detail some of the required security and other costs to taxpayers for the private trip.

The New York Times’ Caucus Blog acknowledged the political risk yesterday:

The White House said then that Mrs. Obama and her friends paid for their own rooms, food and transportation. The first lady reimbursed the government for the equivalent of first-class commercial tickets for herself and her daughter, Sasha, with the rest of the seats on her government plane occupied mainly by Secret Service employees. Her friends flew on separate commercial flights, the White House said at the time.

But as with every first lady, the cost of actually flying the government plane far exceeded the money Mrs. Obama reimbursed, and security is paid for by the government. Secret Service agents travel with any first lady when she leaves the White House, and they typically insist on government transportation to better secure her. Some aides came along as well because Mrs. Obama paid a courtesy call on King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia on the island of Majorca.

Obama told a reporter earlier this month that he has a growing family that needs to get out of the White House on occasion, which is both an assertion that no one disputes and is also missing the point.  Few families take more than one such vacation a year, not even families managing to do well in the stagnant economy.  Taking an average of five a year, with the considerable taxpayer expense involved, is something that most people will find excessive, especially when those vacations involve significant travel — like, say, to Spain, rather than Camp David, which exists for a retreat for Presidents and their families.  The Bushes, for instance, mainly vacationed at their Texas ranch, and even with that, Democrats used to gripe about Bush’s supposedly excessive vacationing then.

Hypocrisy is a powerful argument, especially against a politician attempting to play the populist card in an election.  Still, I wouldn’t necessarily count on this being a big hindrance to Obama garnering votes from committed Democrats, even in blue-collar states.  The economy will make more of an impact than Obama’s vacations.  The only impact this might have would be to blunt Obama’s attacks on Romney as an out-of-touch rich man, because I’d bet that even the Romneys haven’t taken 17 vacations in the last three years — and theirs would have been funded out of their own pockets.


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Comment pages: 1 2

Surely someone has photoshopped Moochelle’s face unto Marie’s by now?!

Christian Conservative on April 27, 2012 at 5:11 PM

“leave the children out of it”, think of the extravagant and secret-service-costly trip the older spoiled brat took to Mexico.

Schadenfreude on April 27, 2012 at 3:25 PM

Barkey should have taken the brats with him in Cartagena to vacay…would have spared paying for the hookers twice :-)…

jimver on April 27, 2012 at 5:12 PM

he would have spared us…

jimver on April 27, 2012 at 5:13 PM

Surely someone has photoshopped Moochelle’s face unto Marie’s by now?!

Christian Conservative on April 27, 2012 at 5:11 PM

You asked. . ..

totherightofthem on April 27, 2012 at 5:16 PM

I think the best thing Romney could do with this is some kind of pledge to not vacation until the economy is picking up or at least some kind of pledge to pay the full costs of his vacations out of his own pocket. In my mind, Obama is vulnerable here. But there is danger to Romney as well. A small act by Romney and then low key, but persistant reminder of that act seems to the best course.

Scopper on April 27, 2012 at 5:16 PM

Surely someone has photoshopped Moochelle’s face unto Marie’s by now?!

Christian Conservative on April 27, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Yep,
and LAT had to go with ” uppity” tag for the Mooch

burrata on April 27, 2012 at 5:20 PM

Really??? It comes down to this??

I’m sorry, but if some one get’s all butthurt over Obama’s vacation habits but can completely accept the unequaled DISASTER his entire administration has foisted upon this country…

good grief…kiss my a$$….

BigWyo on April 27, 2012 at 5:26 PM

BigWyo on April 27, 2012 at 5:26 PM

I miss your point. Of course there are more important Obama actions about which to be outraged, but that some people otherwise disposed to support Obama may not support him because of the excessive Obama vacations seems like a good thing to me.

GaltBlvnAtty on April 27, 2012 at 5:37 PM

Surely someone has photoshopped Moochelle’s face unto Marie’s by now?!

Christian Conservative on April 27, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Don’t Cry For Us, America!

Look Closely In The Ranks Of Rank-In-File Democrats And You Will Find Madame DeFarge

Resist We Much on April 27, 2012 at 5:39 PM

Obama told a reporter earlier this month that he has a growing family that needs to get out of the White House on occasion

I’m sure it wouldn’t be too difficult for some industrious reporter to do a little digging and find out how many lavish vacations to far off distant lands the Obama’s made BEFORE they became the “Royal Family”.

That would surely indicate whether they are just carrying on their same habits or if they are taking advantage of the taxpayers.
That would also make a great question for Romney to ask “Mr. President, would you have taken as many family vacations in this short amount of time if the US taxpayers weren’t picking up the tab?”

AZ_Mike on April 27, 2012 at 5:39 PM

Marie Antoinette was maligned unfairly — comparing MEchelle to her is an insult. Meanwhile, MEchelle hasn’t gotten half the criticism she deserves.

Dark Star on April 27, 2012 at 5:41 PM

GrannyDee on April 27, 2012 at 3:51 PM

No vacation for us either this year (or last year) and probably not next year either

jazzuscounty on April 27, 2012 at 5:45 PM

GaltBlvnAtty on April 27, 2012 at 5:37 PM

Now don’t get me wrong…any vote against President Potato Head is a good thing…

But the idea that this is the one deciding factor that changes some one’s mind about the sorry Son of a bi$(h makes me grind my teeth…

BigWyo on April 27, 2012 at 5:53 PM

But the idea that this is the one deciding factor that changes some one’s mind about the sorry Son of a bi$(h makes me grind my teeth…

BigWyo on April 27, 2012 at 5:53 PM

Long ago in a galaxy far, far away …

… I used to be very active in politics. You would be amazed at the miniscule things that would get people to come out and volunteer their time.

Standing rule: Smile, agree with them, and be sure to put them on an activity with people holding a similar grievance. People LOVE to have their views validated.

Politics is and always has been a contact sport. You don’t waste time grinding your teeth. You spend time trying to knock the other team’s right out of their mouth.

PolAgnostic on April 27, 2012 at 6:13 PM

Something tells me that the epic vacays are Moochelle’s price for shutting up and pretending to be a “nice” first lady.

wildcat72 on April 27, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Oh yeah. She’s ‘high-maintenance’ like no FLOTUS has ever been. When we send them back to Chitcago in January I expect sulking from little Bammie but the Moochie explosion will be epic.

slickwillie2001 on April 27, 2012 at 7:02 PM

Let them eat low-sodium, low-fat, low-calorie cake?

Has anyone made a dog eating joke in the thread yet?

TigerPaw on April 27, 2012 at 7:17 PM

and LAT had to go with ” uppity” tag for the Mooch

burrata on April 27, 2012 at 5:20 PM

I notice their page says the image is “racist.” I didn’t see anything racist about it.

Are people who are black (especially in politics) immune from any and all forms of joking or criticism?

George W. Bush’s face was photoshopped in to and on to any number of jokey or crude images by liberals while he was in office, and I don’t remember these papers saying it was “racist.”

TigerPaw on April 27, 2012 at 7:22 PM

Well it looks like the class warfare is working the Obama’s have created an envy class – this is where they get hoisted on their own petard. We have met the enemy and they are us lol!

Dr Evil on April 27, 2012 at 7:26 PM

LET THEM EAT ARUGULA!

Glenn Jericho on April 27, 2012 at 7:28 PM

George W. Bush’s face was photoshopped in to and on to any number of jokey or crude images by liberals while he was in office, and I don’t remember these papers saying it was “racist.”

TigerPaw on April 27, 2012 at 7:22 PM

Remember when Obama’s jak@$$ dawg Kanye said GW Bush hates black people , live on NBC ? Remember how lefties and Democrats totally freaked out and forced Kanye and NBC to apologize ?
I don’t remember either !

burrata on April 27, 2012 at 8:26 PM

burrata on April 27, 2012 at 8:26 PM

I remember that.

The person who wrote this remembered it too:
Obama hates white people and wants them to die

Didn’t Louis Farrakhan say that Bush planted dynomite into the levees because he wanted them to blow up so he could kill black people?

Previously I wrote, “Are people who are black (especially in politics) immune from any and all forms of joking or criticism?”

I should’ve specified black people who are in politics who are Democrats/liberals.

I’ve noticed that black people who are conservative/ Republican get subjected to racist and rude comments by liberals (both white and black liberals).

TigerPaw on April 27, 2012 at 8:38 PM

“If they do not have bread, let them eat arugula, lobster, and Wagyu beef!”

Resist We Much on April 27, 2012 at 9:01 PM

The only impact this might have would be to blunt Obama’s attacks on Romney as an out-of-touch rich man, because I’d bet that even the Romneys haven’t taken 17 vacations in the last three years

It took you the length of the article to finally hit on the obvious.

Sort of takes the kick out of class-warfare whining, no?

Tim_CA on April 27, 2012 at 9:18 PM

No way in hell they would leave Bo alone with Barry. Money well spent in my view.

Jabberwock on April 27, 2012 at 3:46 PM

Still laughing!

Cleombrotus on April 27, 2012 at 9:52 PM

Sorry, no sympathy for the blue collar dems who just now see that Obama doesn’t give a rat’s ass. You idiots helped get us in this mess and you can wallow in your unemployment, your underwater mortgage, and the fact that you can’t take a vacation. You all deserve the flea ridden bed you’ve made for yourselves. So go ahead and vote for this fool again, because you’re incapable of admitting you may have been wrong, and too close minded to listen to other ideas. Go ahead, and watch the rest of what’s left of your lives go down the drain.

teacherman on April 27, 2012 at 9:53 PM

I notice their page says the image is “racist.” I didn’t see anything racist about it.

Are people who are black (especially in politics) immune from any and all forms of joking or criticism?

George W. Bush’s face was photoshopped in to and on to any number of jokey or crude images by liberals while he was in office, and I don’t remember these papers saying it was “racist.”

TigerPaw on April 27, 2012 at 7:22 PM

Duh! Any thing that can even tangentially be described as criticism of the Obamas is racist. He says there are 57 states? Geography is racist. His numbers on Obamacare don’t add up? Math is racist. Substituting Michelle’s face for that of a white (Austrian by birth at that) 18th century French Queen is obviously racist under these rules. If you can’t see that, it’s only because you are racist. /

Dark Star on April 27, 2012 at 10:17 PM

Taxpayers also paid the bill for separate lodging for a dog and its handler.

I’m guessing it was a one-way ticket for that dog.

Chuck Schick on April 28, 2012 at 12:10 AM

People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Bush used Airforce One as a personal taxi to go to fundraisers more than any other president at the time.

Ric on April 29, 2012 at 7:23 AM

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