Back in January, President Barack Obama told us all (including the future starving generations of poor kids whose food stamps are being sacrificed so teachers today can get paid by federal bailouts), that
Everybody in the country is going to have to sacrifice something, accept change for the greater good. Everybody is going to have to give. Everybody is going to have to have some skin in the game.
And back when Obama was trying to get the Olympics to Chicago, he was flanked by Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama, who talked about that trip as a sacrifice:
"As much of a sacrifice as people say this is for me or Oprah or the President to come for these few days, so many of you in this room have been working for years to bring this bid home."
Lady O's latest sacrifice?
The First Lady is spending the next few days in a five-star hotel on the chic Costa del Sol in southern Spain with 40 of her "closest friends." According to CNN, the group is expected to occupy 60 to 70 rooms, more than a third of the lodgings at the 160-room resort. Not exactly what one would call cutting back in troubled times.
Reports are calling the lodgings of Obama's Spanish fiesta, the Hotel Villa Padierna in Marbella, "luxurious," "posh" and "a millionaires' playground." Estimated room rate per night? Up to a staggering $2,500. Method of transportation? Air Force Two.
As New York Daily News columnist Andrea Tantaros (from whom the preceding quotes are taken) observes:
To be clear, what the Obamas do with their money is one thing; what they do with ours is another. Transporting and housing the estimated 70 Secret Service agents who will flank the material girl will cost the taxpayers a pretty penny.
Sure, the First Lady's vacation is at most a symbolic activity (symbolic of what, exactly, is unclear, especially because the State Department had to hustle to remove warnings from its website that "racist prejudices could lead to the arrest of Afro-Americans who travel to Spain" before Mrs. Obama touched down). But the fact is that all politics is symbolic and pretty much any way you cut it, this trip is a symbol that something is rotten in DC and especially among the political class.
Way, way back in 2004, when the future was brighter than a brand-spanking new tube of Gleem toothpaste, the accomplished doctor-wife of insurgent candidate Howard Dean got it right when she pulled a Dennis Thatcher and refused to be a public player in her spouse's campaign. That gesture of refusal took us back to the thrilling days of yore, when monarchs were deposed and limited-government, small-R republicanism was first created, a moment when originally stingy-with-the-public-purse-strings folks like Oliver Cromwell pledged not to live like kings on the public teat (boy, did that ever go wrong). Cromwell and his New Model Army, after all, had taken down a ruler who flaunted his tax-enabled excess via a court that was truly out of control (sadly, it took but a few years for Cromwell to get on that bandwagon himself). But there, for a brief, shining moment, was an idea that rulers should live like the people they govern because, after all, they weren't any different. And the last thing you wanted was a partner who ran up the credit cards like Mary Todd Lincoln or sniffed about letting the little people eat cake.
Suspicion of consorts is...a defining feature of republics. Seen in that light, the refusal by the Deans to play along with a status quo that gave us Nancy Reagan's china-shopping binges and Hillary Clinton's crumbled cookies should be seen as more than just relief from politics as usual. When Gov. Dean says he doesn't intend to drag his wife around "as a prop on the campaign trail," he's hearkening back to one of the foundational, if rarely observed, elements of our form of government.
Well, those days are over, if they ever really existed. Between trips like this and the recent Chelsea Clinton nuptials (costing a reported $2 million smackers), we've entered a late-ancien regime era of rancid excess by the ruling class. Whether it leads to a popular uprising and calls for respectable cloth coats is anybody's guess.
But here's hoping.
Original HT: Michelle Malkin's Twitter!
Bonus: Three Dog Night has never been to Spain, or to heaven, but they been to Oklahoma.