31st August 2011
Victor Davis Hanson looks at the Obama, Smartest Guy in the Room.
The president’s latest Martha’s Vineyard vacation was a public-relations disaster, wholly unnecessary, and in part responsible for Obama’s most recent slide in the polls. Part of the problem was purely coincidental and no one’s fault: Who could have expected that while the president of the United States was resting on an exclusive private beach on a tony island on a calm August day, millions of Eastern Seaboarders around him would be engaged in a media-driven frenzy of emergency preparation and evacuation?
Yet most of the negative perception was the president’s own doing. For nearly three years, there has been something strange about the First Family’s ritzy getaway tastes. The annual Martha’s Vineyard rentals were bookended by First Family junkets to Vail, Costa del Sol, and Hawaii. The choice of venues spawned at least three problems for the president that have nothing to do with the First Family’s right, and indeed duty, to enjoy a little well-earned vacation time — or with the fact that other presidents have vacationed in nice places.
Yet some photos inevitably leaked out of the “redistributive change” statist at his $50,000-a-week rented estate, surrounded by “millionaires and billionaires” who could alone afford such rental prices, many of whom flew in on “corporate jets.” That disconnect appears to the American public as abjectly hypocritical. We all know that for the president to keep pushing his agenda of higher taxes, he will soon inevitably get back to bashing the rich. But we also assume that this time the public has seen the flip side of a one-eyed Jack and wonders, when the president hits up his Vineyard neighbors for campaign cash at his $20 million rented estate, whether he will first make sure that they are not “fat cats” and owners of “corporate jets.”
Even right-wing presidents, even in good times, know enough not to rub in too much the perks of being president. George W. Bush was pilloried for chain-sawing at “the ranch,” as if he were a counterfeit outdoorsman; but he still knew that his media critics suffered far more in his beloved nowheresville of Crawford than did he. The “Reagan Ranch” in the Santa Barbara Mountains was not really a ranch at all, but a rustic hovel, and the videos of Reagan in his early seventies, chopping wood amid burrs and stickers, with sweat spots under his arms, were not faked. In contrast, the elder Bush liked boating off his family estate in Maine — and was flayed for being a bit too happy with his seaside, preppie-sounding Kennebunkport mansion.
Obama spends his vacations playing golf with rich people. George W Bush spent his vacations on a ranch in Texas clearing brush in 100-degree heat. Which one do you want in charge of the government?