What do gas, vacations, war, and golf have to do with one another?
Meet some contenders for the selective journalism award I’ve just created. I’ve decided to call it “The Cricket,” in honor of the sound we so often associate with dead air. . . you know, “cricket. . . cricket. . . cricket. . .” We’ve been through this the last 4 years, and for countless topics- the media has remained silent on every hypocritical move the president makes, while history lends us quite the opposite picture of the media during the “hated” years of George W. Bush. Granted, far more than four qualified contenders could make this list (taxes, immigration, debt, deficit. . . . you name it) , but do you really want to read a blog post the size of War & Peace?
Contender A: Gas Prices
During the 8 years of the George W. Bush presidency, I watched the media scream like a stuck pig every time the gas prices rose. . . and then subtly (or maybe not so subtly) insinuate that Dick Cheney and his pals at Halliburton had some hidden stockpile of gasoline somewhere that they were just sitting on. . . just for kicks and giggles. According to the Business and Media Institute, “as gas prices rose in 2008, network reporters mentioned President Bush in 15 times as many stories, than they brought up President Obama in a similar period in 2011. Comparing a 20 day span of rising gas prices in 2008 to 24 days of rising prices in February 2011, the Business & Media Institute found the networks did more than 2 ½ times as many stories during the Bush years versus Obama.” This is interesting, considering that from the day Obama was inaugurated to today, gas prices have risen 67%, as compared to the 22% overall increase during the same period under George W. Bush. As we all know, by the end of Bush’s second term gas prices came down considerably; something that is unlikely to occur this time around because, as the Heritage Foundation puts it, “. . .President Obama’s policies are rooted in unilaterally shutting down the domestic oil industry amidst rising prices and a struggling economy.”
Gas prices have risen every single day for the past 31 days, resulting in a national average of $3.73/gallon for regular grade gasoline. The media certainly has a great deal of catching up to do on the number of stories linking the president to the high gas prices. . . but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Contender B: Vacations, Vacations, Vacations
I believe most would agree that the American Presidency is one of, if not THE most, stressful job on planet earth. After all, most people don’t want the stress managing their local Homeowner’s Association, let alone the free world. In other worlds- no one is saying the president can’t take a break.
Here’s the deal, though- there’s a vast difference between taking the traveling White House to one’s home as in the case of Ronald Reagan’s Rancho del Cielo or George W. Bush’s Texas digs. They went HOME. Once again, the media cried foul. The Washington Times posted a piece entitled “Vacationing Bush Poised to Set A Record,” in which the author took swipes at the number of time Bush took his work to his Crawford, Texas ranch:
“By historical standards, it is the longest presidential retreat in at least 36 years.” (in reference to his 5 week trip away from the White House)
“. . . roughly 20 percent of his presidency to date, according to Mark Knoller, a CBS Radio reporter known for keeping better records of the president’s travel than the White House itself;”
“. . .they [the trips] symbolize a lackadaisical approach to the world’s most important day job, an impression bolstered by Bush’s periodic two-hour midday exercise sessions and his disinclination to work nights or weekends.” (Lackadaisical might better describe President Obama’s “checking out” at around 5 pm the night of the horrendous Benghazi attack, but then again who’s keeping track.)
The article even went on to insinuate that had Bush spent a little less time at the Ranch. . . 9/11 might not have happened.
To a couple of WashPo staff writers who are so deeply interested in the historical trends of presidential “vacations,” I’d expect subsequent pieces on the extensive nature of this president’s vacation habits would be readily at hand. . .so I did a quick Google search of the article’s authors (there are two: Jim VandeHei and Peter Baker) plus the words “obama vacations.” Shocker- not a peep. Well, if we’re being honest, Peter Baker did write a piece on how Michelle Obama’s Spain extravaganza was heavily criticized. . .though the piece was hardly as critical nor as opinionated as the former piece. Then there’s his riveting report on the president’s free-time reading. . .
Keep in mind also, that there’s a vast difference between what the press liked to refer to as Bush’s working “vacations” and a pleasure trip; to date, the Obama family “pleasure trips” far outweigh his predecessor’s. Call me crazy, but a multi-million dollar jaunt to Spain or luxury accommodations in Aspen is just a bit different than heading home to one’s ranch. The Obama family also seems to relish in taking separate trips (just like this week’s, where Michelle was in Aspen and Obama was golfing with Tiger), or separate fully staffed planes on the same trip, incurring even more cost. Aside from all of that, the Obama family’s four trips to Hawaii top $20 million alone. Keith Koffler puts it well:
“The Obamas get plenty of vacation. They have sojourned every summer in Martha’s Vineyard except for last year, when campaigning and pre-election concern about appearances got in the way. They often take a side trip somewhere else during the year, and Michelle goes skiing annually out West. At the very least, they could spend their Christmas holidays at Camp David or at one of the many fine resorts outside of Washington, which would require only the use of the presidential helicopter to get them there.”
Alas, the first family must have trips to only the best beaches, ski at only the best resorts, summer holiday in Martha’s Vineyard, and hang out in only some of the best hotel rooms Spain has to offer. George Bush went to . . . Texas. Crawford. . . Texas. To his (gasp) HOME. I might add that these trips to Texas took place at an Air Force One hourly cost of approximately $68,000, which incidentally is a far cry from Obama’s $181,000/hr. (Hint hint, Mr. President, maybe your fuel bill wouldn’t be so high if you didn’t have drilling in a choke hold. . .food for thought.)
Here’s some perspective for you: while the ENTIRE British Royal Family costs the British taxpayers a mere 60 million a year, the FOUR members of Obama family cost the American taxpayer 1.4 BILLION per year. Billion, ladies and gentleman. As in 20 times the cost of the ENTIRE ROYAL FAMILY. Now, granted, that includes all costs of maintaining the First Family, including the lavish vacations no one seems to want to criticize in these tough times. Sure- the presidency is expensive. But just how expensive is justifiable? According to Robert Gray in an interview with the Daily Caller (as reprinted here) “$1.4 billion spent last year is the ‘total cost of the presidency,’ factoring in the ‘biggest staff in history at the highest wages ever,’
and ‘Air Force One ‘running with the frequency of a scheduled air line.'”
I realize that presidential vacations aren’t cheap. I realize that with the president must travel a full staff and security, each incurring an extra expense; the difference, naturally, is that when one chooses to simply go HOME rather than on 4 million dollar Christmas trips to Hawaii, there’s a disconnect. “But Hawaii IS his home!” snapped a Democratic strategist on Fox News this evening. Au contraire; Obama hasn’t lived in Hawaii since his younger years; while both Michelle and the family they then had made their life in Chicago. Would it kill the First Family to consider the “optics” (and the price tag of a trip on Air Force One at a mere $181,000 an hour) of a trans-Pacific flight to Hawaii versus a more sensitive cross-country jaunt to their home in Chicago? Whether or not the President chooses to blame himself for the economic straights we’re in, he can’t deny that Americans are suffering. Yet he soaked up the sun in Hawaii anyway.
Care to venture a guess as to how much Bush spent on those ghastly trips to his personal ranch over the COURSE Of his presidency? A paltry $124 million. That comes out to roughly $15.5 million a year on vacation over the course of EIGHT years. Heck, Michelle alone spent close to that in ONE YEAR with her 40+ days of vacations without Commander and Chief.
Contender C: Rounds of Golf
Bush was again heavily criticized for his rounds of golf, which he eventually stopped doing after feeling that it sent the wrong message to the hurting families affected by the war. Bush is quoted as saying that he thought “playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal. I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander-in-chief playing golf.” Obama, who has now golf four times as much as Bush did in 8 years, doesn’t seem to concern himself with how his carefree relaxation on the best of courses with only the best of players looks to Americans suffering in their upside down home, next to their unemployed spouse, with a meal purchased with food stamps on the dining room table. And where’s the mainstream media on this travesty? Instead, the New York Times presents a hard-hitting piece on how President Obama was honoring his past predecessors on this President’s Day by. . . chilling out? After a quick joke about chilly temperatures and a “chill” President (haha) NYTimes kept it going: “All told, the weekend offered another sign of a president who is freed from worry about running for election again.” Ah yes- never mind that this president has played more golf in 4 years than the oh-so-criticized Bush did in 8 years. . .the New York Times certainly could care less. They continue: “The president’s aides say he takes fewer vacations than many of his predecessors did, and even then he often cannot catch a break, with crises at home or abroad interrupting.”
First of all, we’ve just established that the idea of Barack Obama as the occasional vacationer is hardly reality. Second of all, poor Barack! You mean, the President of the United States; the leader of the free world must concern himself with the pesky interruptions like “crises at home or abroad” that dare to interrupt his million dollar trip-ettes?
Contender D: Wars
We all remember the Code Pink days, with their often controversial, anti-war, anti-Bush protests. The media followed suit, criticizing Bush for his use of enhanced interrogation, Guantanamo Bay, and the war in general. Meanwhile, Barack Obama takes credit for nabbing Osama bin Laden on intelligence gleaned from the interrogations of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others, Guantanamo Bay is still wide open, and while the wars are “ending,” the Obama presidency has decided to take matters into their own hands by using drones to take out their targets. These drones work quite well in the context of the battlefield; however things get a little sticky when the administration starts using them to take out an American citizen without due process. Naturally I’m speaking of Anwar al Awlaki, who I personally feel should fry for what he did; nonetheless he was an American citizen who was entitled to his day in court. Where’s the media hysteria?
So now, dear readers, it’s your turn to participate. Vote below to elect A Future Free’s first ever Cricket Award Recipient!