“Material Girl” and “modern day Marie Antoinette” are among the appellations given to First Lady Michelle Obama as she takes her latest vacation yet for the summer.
A stay at the luxury Hotel Villa Padierna, full-time Secret Service protection, an entourage of White House Staff, family and friends and travel aboard a chartered US Air Force plane are amongst the list of things sparking controversy as Michelle Obama reportedly takes a “glamorous” vacation.
While Barack Obama is (reportedly) spending his 49th birthday with Oprah Winfrey, the First Lady is off to Spain with their daughter Sasha, enjoying what critics called a “glitzy” vacation. Critics have bashed this latest vacation because of the cost and viewing it as the Obamas being insensitive to the current recession.
New York Daily News writer Andrea Tantaros has already labelled Mrs. Obama a “modern day Marie Antoinette” for taking such a ritzy vacation while most of the country is struggling to make ends meet.
“Michelle Obama seems more like a modern-day Marie Antoinette – the French queen who spent extravagantly on clothes and jewels without a thought for her subjects’ plight – than an average mother of two,” she writes. “… I don’t begrudge anyone rest and relaxation when they work hard. We all need downtime – the First Family included. It’s the extravagance of Michelle Obama’s trip and glitzy destination contrasted with President Obama’s demonization of the rich that smacks of hypocrisy and perpetuates a disconnect between the country and its leaders.”
Hotel Villa Padierna, where the entourage is expected to occupy 60 to 70 rooms, is often described as one of the world’s top 10 hotels. Rates range between $500 and $2,500 a night. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs reportedly told reporters that the first lady will pay her personal expenses — as will the friends who are traveling with her. But critics are of the opinion that a huge chunk of the ultimate expense is being covered by taxpayers.
This latest vacation, dubbed number 7 for the summer, will see the First Lady pay an official visit on Sunday to King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia at their summer home on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca.
But why can’t Mrs. Obama take a “private” vacation? Has she become disentitled to it simply because she is the First Lady? What about other First Ladies’ private vacations? So here is the issue: though the vacation is labeled as “private,” there is an assumption, a suspicion that it is nevertheless taxpayer-funded. Should she have therefore regarded her vacation as “official” to appease or deceive the American People? If the vacation is private and the Obamas are paying out of pocket for it, what’s the fuss? They had jobs and a ‘life’ before the came to the White House, didn’t they?
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August 6, 2010