President Obama begins his 10-day vacation in Martha’s Vineyard today, the third year in a row he has taken his summer holiday in one of America’s most expensive resorts. During his time there he will be experiencing the kind of luxury that the vast majority of ordinary Americans can only dream about: Barack Obama will be staying in a compound which costs more to rent for a single week than most American households earn in a year.
In previous years Obama’s expensive vacations have attracted relatively little attention from the US media, with the exception of Michelle Obama’s trip to southern Spain last August, which led to her being dubbed a “modern-day Marie Antoinette” by one columnist. This year, however, even some flagships of the liberal mainstream media have been raising eyebrows. The Washington Post’s coverage for example has been unusually critical, for a publication that usually shies away from making an issue out what it would traditionally view as the president’s private life:
With 14 million Americans out of work, a volatile stock market and a historic downgrade of the country’s credit rating, President Obama is set to begin a 10-day retreat Thursday at a 28-acre Martha’s Vineyard compound called Blue Heron Farm, which costs an estimated $50,000 per week to rent. That divide — and the presumed hypocrisy of a president who has pledged not to rest “until every American looking for a job can find one,” going golfing and biking on an island playground for wealthy celebrities — has been too much for political pundits to resist.Obama’s decision to head to a popular playground for wealthy elites in the face of intense media scrutiny is a surprisingly reckless move. It is a particularlly foolish act just 14 months away from a presidential election where he will likely end up the underdog rather than the favourite. The contrast between an imperious, out-of-touch US president and the economic plight of tens of millions of Americans could not be starker. Obama’s holiday will no doubt come to haunt him in November next year, with the economy the number one issue for voters.
Which begs the question – why did the president go ahead with his vacation despite the worst approval ratings of his presidency, plunging stock markets, falling consumer confidence, and overwhelming public disillusion with his handling of the economy? I think the answer lies in Obama’s professorial-style arrogance, and a condescending approach towards ordinary Americans.
This is a US presidency with a distinctly Upstairs Downstairs approach towards running the country. At the end of the day, Barack Obama is in a serious state of denial if he believes the US electorate won’t care if their president acts with impunity at a time of tremendous economic turmoil and uncertainty. I suspect that when he returns to Washington in September, Mr Obama may get a rather nasty shock in the polls from angry voters who won’t take kindly to their president going AWOL in the lap of luxury during a major financial crisis.