No, Obama’s not taking 34 Navy ships to India with him

I’m relieved to say that we didn’t bite on this one, notwithstanding Drudge’s touting of it today. I did, though, link in Headlines the stories about his trip allegedly costing $200 million(!!!) per day and his team booking every room in a five-star hotel in Mumbai. I didn’t begrudge him that last one, actually; very bad things have been known to happen to hotels in Mumbai, so why not take all necessary precautions? As for the purported cost of the trip, yeah, $200 mil sounds nutty — but after a $2.5 trillion health-care bill and an $800 billion stimulus, I confess that no numbers seem implausible to me anymore when it comes to government expenditures.

Note to self: Don’t trust Indian media.

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell did not shy away from dismissing reports that appeared in Indian media outlets, such as the Press Trust of India and the television network NDTV. The Press Trust of India is that country’s largest news agency…

“I will take the liberty this time of dismissing as absolutely absurd this notion that somehow we were deploying 10 percent of the Navy — some 34 ships and an aircraft carrier — in support of the president’s trip to Asia,” said Morrell at today’s Pentagon briefing. “That’s just comical. Nothing close to that is being done.”…

The Indian media reports also say security for the Presidential trip will cost $200 million a day. Morrell “there’s been a lot of creative writing that’s been done on this trip over the last few days. I’ve seen other reports with some astronomical figures in terms of what it costs to take these trips. I don’t know the cost. We don’t speak to the cost.” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was blunt in his characterization of the cost reports, “this trip doesn’t cost $200 million a day.”

More debunkery at the Journal:, a website devoted to myth busting, noted that even if the Indian press has correctly reported the size of the president’s entourage – 3,000 – the cost would work out to $66,000 per person per day, “a figure that stretches credulity to the breaking point.” noted that the entire war in Afghanistan costs $190 million a day.

But the report is demonstrably incorrect. It says the White House had blocked off the entire Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai – it hasn’t – and that the press traveling with Mr. Obama will be staying there. We won’t. Besides, the press pays its own way at considerable cost to the media outlets, not the U.S. taxpayer.

Near as I can tell, the mega-bombshell about Obama introducing a teleprompter to India’s parliament remains tragically, pathetically true. Exit question: What about this new blockbuster from the Telegraph about the mass coconut culling happening around the city’s Gandhi museum to protect the presidential noggin? Dude, I think it’s real.