ABC News reports that Michelle Obama made her first trip to the Gulf this week, surveying the damage and trying to keep morale high in the region. To that end, the First Lady extolled the virtues of the Gulf region, encouraging Americans not to avoid it but to spend their tourist dollars in the affected states:

On her first trip to the Gulf Coast since the BP oil spill, First Lady Michelle Obama encouraged Americans to consider vacationing on the region’s beaches that have not been directly impacted by oil.

“It is vacation time. Folks are looking for things to do with their kids, and this would be a great opportunity to do a few things — help this community, send a different message about the extent of the spill, and also think long term about how the rest of the country can help this economy and the folks down here,” Mrs. Obama said at the Panama City Welcome Center. …

Mrs. Obama said the word needs to get out to Americans that there are “beautiful beaches” along the Gulf Coast and it’s a great time for families to come down with their kids.

“There are still thousands of miles of beaches that have not been touched by the spill,” the first lady said. “And there are communities that thrive on tourism and on the economic power of beaches that have not been damaged.”

It’s a good message to get out to the US, but that might not be enough. Having a high-profile family lead the way by taking a vacation on those shores would be an even bigger boost. The media would cover it extensively and reach even more Americans who might consider a Gulf vacation for a family getaway.

As it happens, the Obama family is taking a vacation. Will the President follow his wife’s advice?

The Obama family will be taking a mini-vacation of their own this weekend, but instead of going to the Gulf Coast they are traveling to Maine’s Mount Desert Island, home of Acadia National Park.

Well, it’s not quite as far as President Obama could go in the lower 48 to get away from the Gulf, but it’s close. I wonder if the golfing’s better in Maine…

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