by Joe Saunders
Washington must have been getting boring already.
Not content with already setting a record for travels on the taxpayers’ credit card in 2013, Michelle Obama will be heading to the Far East for spring break with her two daughters and a boatload of Secret Service agents, aides and other publicly paid employees, The Associated Press reports.
Photo: Daily Telegraph
While President Obama heads in the other direction of the globe with a trip to Europe and Saudi Arabia, the first lady will travel March 19-26 to the Chinese capital of Beijing as well as Xian in central China and Chengdu in the southwest, according to AP.
The spring break trip is being billed as partially diplomatic, with Obama scheduled to meet with Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan, the wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, but there’s no doubt going to be a fair amount of sight-seeing for the first lady, who’s probably felt cooped up in the White House ever since returning from that Hawaiian vacation all the way back in January.
In addition to her daughters, Michelle will be accompanied by her mother, Marian Robinson, according to a White House statement.
The Chinese junket continues a pattern Mrs. Obama has followed since her husband’s election, with extravagant trips abroad or expensive vacations within the U.S. – like the girls’ spring break last year in Sun Valley, Idaho.
And all of this at a time when the president’s party is trying to make raising the minimum wage its rallying cry against supposed Republican heartlessness.
Thanks to Barack Obama’s success in politics (his authorial skills are as wildly overrated as they are self-indulgent), the Obamas are millionaires many times over. No real conservative would begrudge a couple spending money they earned any way they chose – including extravagant vacations to wherever the spirit moved them.
But the first lady’s trips grate for two reasons: no possible realistic good is being returned to the taxpayers for the millions the trips cost in travel expenses, salaries or security (Michelle being on a first-name basis with the first lady of China doesn’t do much for the unemployment rate in Chicago); and they keep feeding an unavoidable sense that the Obamas’ really do think they’re royalty, traveling the world in luxury while preaching the gospel of “income inequality” at home. (Taking mom along to China’s a nice touch, too.)
Back during World War II, to emphasize the importance of rationing and restricting all available resources to the war effort, the government popularized the slogan, “Was this trip really necessary?”
Americans could be forgiven if Michelle Obama’s answer to that is always “yes.” But it’s doubtful the question ever even comes up.