In Tough Economy, Obama White House Scales Up to 54 Christmas Trees
While you may be spending December figuring out what sort of Christmas you'll be able to afford, what tax payments you need to make before year's end, and just how the fiscal cliff is going to affect your 2013, the Obama's have taken a different approach: They're going big and going home (to Hawaii, for a long vacation).
Earlier this month, Andrew Malcolm of Investor's Business Daily reported on Michelle Obama's announcement about holiday decorations at the White House:
"We have 54 trees in the White House," an excited Michelle Obama proudly told visitors the other day. "54! That's a lot of trees."…
In fact, it's more than double the usual number. The trees are donated, so it's not a direct picking of the taxpayers' pockets, though one assumes that the donors of said trees are probably expecting some stocking stuffers that will likely screw us somewhere down the line.
In addition to 54 Christmas trees, Michelle Obama has overseen the placement of thousands of ornaments in public rooms. Many of the ornaments celebrate the Obama family dog, Bo, who seems to have become the First Family's favorite symbol of Christmas. Other decorations, including on the more prominent trees, were made by children in schools on U.S. military bases.
The Obamas are planning an extended vacation in Hawaii as well:
According to notices distributed to residents of an exclusive waterfront neighborhood in Hawaii, they can expect to enjoy restricted access and other inconveniences to their homes and normal lives from Dec. 17 through Jan. 6. That's about a 50% longer holiday vacation than last year.
The inconveniences stem from security requirements for the vacationing Obamas and a large number of their accompanying friends. Obama's staff will have to put up with rooms in a nearby luxury hotel.
The White House has also taken time away from solving all the world's problems to put together this video of First Dog Bo "inspecting" the White House decorations:
The video has over 2 million views, which means that at least 10 million unemployed Americans have either had their internet cut or just haven't gotten around to watching this.
The Bo Christmas video extends a nauseating tradition that dates back to at least the George W. Bush White House years (gosh, that seems like years ago!). Most disturbingly, in 2006, First Dog Barnie petitioned a broke government for money to put on a "holiday extravaganza" but was told by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson that "we're broke" (thus marking the last time Paulson denied a friend a bailout).
I'm a longtime critic of public specatacle as it relates to a properly understood republican form of government. Our leaders should be equal to us, not lordly in their pomp and circumstance. Obama family vacations in the past have rightly riled anger among us serfs and vassals precisely because ostentatious displays of wealth and leisure by our rulers is anathema to our form of government. It's bad enough when the ruler is a French king or an English regicide, but an American president celebrating his re-election should really work to avoid displays of conspicuous consumption.
I'm not saying that the Obamas should spend the holidays washing the feet of Washington's homeless, though that would be nice (and possibly a mini-scandal waiting to happen: In 2009, Mrs. Obama botched feeding the hungry by showing up to a food-bank giveaway wearing $540 sneakers).
But I am saying: Enough with goddamn dog videos already!
There's a crap economy, a looming fiscal disaster (a.k.a. as the new normal), new and old wars raging, and more going on. In fact, even if the national debt was zero and the Smurfs had reconciled with Gargamel, and chocolate milk was suddenly discovered to be calorie-free, I can't imagine a world in which First Dog videos and a presidential residence overstuffed with Christmas trees should be a regular or acceptable feature of political discourse.
In 2010, Reason TV Celebrated Joe Biden's Personal War on Christmas: