My favorite part of the uproar over First Lady Michelle Obama’s “private vacation” to Spain is what I heard on MSNBC Saturday morning, August 7th.
(We had it on during breakfast because we like to hear what the “other side” is saying and we know how badly MSNBC needs viewers.)
As Norah O’Donnell was reporting on what the trip was costing the US taxpayer, she claimed the White House was “surprised at the outrage and the controversy” surrounding Michelle’s Excellent Adventure.
Upon hearing this I almost choked on my Cheerios because I was surprised and outraged that the White House was surprised at the outrage.
Needless to say, The First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS) and her entourage’s stay at the “Ritz” (yes, the 5 star Villa Padierna really is a Ritz Carlton) where the nightly web rate for a 2 bedroom villa is $2,029 in US greenbacks, just sends the wrong message, an insensitive message to the average American who is still ticked off that Disney just raised their adult day rate to $82.
In political speak, the “optics” of the First Lady’s trip was a 5-star public relations disaster certifying that the White House is totally clueless about pretending to feel our collective pain when 14.6 million Americans are out of work.
But it gets even worse, because on July 12, FLOTUS went to the Florida Gulf (before leaving for her family’s Maine vacation) and proclaimed that the word needed to get out to Americans that there are beautiful beaches along the Gulf Coast and it was a great time for families to come down with their kids to help boost the local economy.
So instead of heading to the Spanish Ritz, imagine the positive optics if FLOTUS had taken Sasha and 40 of her closest friends to the Gulf Coast for 5 days. The media would have been gushing with praise about how this was Michelle’s “gift to Gulf tourism” now that oil is no longer gushing– an economic stimulus translating into millions of free advertising for a region now officially in recovery.
Even though I am a right-wing republican, the White House should have put me in charge of the FLOTUS Vacation Travel Office. Besides the obvious Gulf trip, I would have lobbied for three American vacation sites, travel to any one of which would have demonstrated political sensitivity towards “Recovery Summer,” Jobs Jobs Jobs and the upcoming mid-term elections.
The White House would have loved my plan of action titled:
The FLOTUS Summer Economic Stimulus Vacation Destination Plan
The plan would have proposed that FLOTUS take Sasha and 40 friends for 5 days to one of the American states where unemployment is the highest.
First is Nevada, leading the nation with 14.2% unemployment. It’s a family friendly state, and what happens there stays there, as you all well know. This trip could have been a two-fer, not only for the economic impact of a FLOTUS vacation but the help it might have given Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to keep his title and his Senate seat.
Second is Michigan; Poor Michigan, oh I mean “Pure Michigan” referring to that dreamy ad campaign now costing $15 million which encourages badly needed tourism to a state with 13.2% unemployment. This year ad spending was cut in half, down from $30 million in 2009, because as everyone knows Michigan is pure broke. But the state would have hooked the biggest fish in the pond if FLOTUS had chosen the lakes of “Pure Michigan” over the beaches of pure Spain.
Third is California with 12.3% unemployment and places like Big Sur that are just as beautiful as anywhere in Spain. Then FLOTUS and Sasha could have gone hiking and picnicking in the mountains overlooking the Pacific with Senator Barbara Boxer to help keep her Senate seat, instead of lunching at the summer palace with the King of Spain.
The last paragraph of my action plan to the FLOTUS Vacation Travel Office would have concluded that if FLOTUS had taken Sasha and friends to the Gulf or one of our top three unemployment states then FLOTUS could have announced to the media:
“For the first time in my adult life I am really proud of my vacation.”
Myra Adams is a media producer, writer and political observer. Her media clients have included national associations, political interest groups and corporations. She served on the McCain Ad Council during the 2008 McCain campaign. Myra’s web site TheJesusStore.com contributes all profits to Christian charity.