In Light of U.S. Economic Woes, First Lady's Vacation Raises Eyebrows
I haven't really taken a huge vacation this year other than a short trip to southern California about six months ago to hang out with my folks and have some laughs with a bunch of old school Vietnam veterans. Besides that, I haven't done much else unless living vicariously through Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern and their Travel Channel shows actually counts for anything. In an ever so stark contrast to my 2010 travels, first lady Michelle Obama, her youngest daughter, Sasha, and several friends of the Obamas recently spent five days in southern Spain, which included a charity event heavy on the celebrity hosted by the likes of Antonio Banderas and Eva Longoria and a Sunday lunch date on the island of Majorca off Spain's northeastern coast at the summer home (read as "palace") of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia. That sounds like a pretty decent way to spend five days, and I'm sure good times were had by all.
The trip, however, has drawn criticism stateside what with the economy moving steadily away from the much vaunted recovery President Obama touted mere months ago. With unemployment currently at 9.5 percent and millions of Americans perhaps unable to afford a vacation due to various circumstances, many are calling Mrs. Obama's vacation everything from a case of poor timing to poor judgment or even flat out insensitivity. Writing in the New York Daily News, Andrea Tantaros took it a step further, stating that "Michelle Obama seems more like a modern-day Marie Antoinette...than an average mother of two."
Damn...tell us how you really feel, Andrea.
Most of the criticism of Mrs. Obama's trip has, not unexpectedly, centered on how much of the bill will be covered by taxpayers. While the White House has stressed that she would be covering personal expenses, including transportation and their hotel stay at the Ritz Carlton's five-star Hotel Villa Padierna, and that her friends that accompanied her are also paying their own way, many are concerned about costs for other expenses such as the necessities of providing a Secret Service detail. Some estimates have put the cost of the flight to Spain alone at approximately $178,000 for a roughly eight hour flight, or about $11,555 per hour.Continued on the next page