Last night on Jon Stewart, Jon mentioned the Fox News criticism of the New York City date President and Mrs. Obama took last weekend. Knowing nothing about it, I gave it a Google. Apparently, the criticism didn't just come from Fox, but from the Republican National Committee, who issued a press release criticizing President Obama for spending the money to take a jet to New York for the evening while the nation is in recession and GM is going under. (Read the Fox story here, but it turns out they weren't the only ones pissed off--political bloggers are all over this.)
Surprise! I have no problem with this! I don't care if it did cost the $50,000-$100,000 Fox estimates (though I kinda doubt it did). I'm OK with that. As a citizen and a taxpayer, I'm cool. Happy to pay not only my 1/10th of a cent ($100,000 divided by approx. 100,000,000 US taxpayers), but yours too! In fact, if you'd like, my entire 2009 tax burden can go to the Obama date fund!
Why? Couple of reasons:
First, this is a completely hypocritical complaint. Was there an outcry every time Bush took a jumbo jet to the ranch? Not that I remember. And he did it all the damn time. U.S. President is kind of an all-expense paid kind of a gig, you know? Can't change the rules on that now.
Secondly, to the criticism that the Obamas should have just gone out in Washington. Sure. They do. They've done it a number of times. But if they occasionally want to go somewhere else, what's the issue? And Christ, they just hopped over to New York--it's less than 200 miles! It's not like they went to Paris for the evening.
This leads me to the criticism about their evening being too extravagant. They went to New York, had dinner at Blue Hill, and went to a Broadway show. Unless there was some undisclosed diamond buying in between, I don't see what's so freaking unreasonable about those activities. Yes, Blue Hill is a nice restaurant (if you are curious, the menu is here--sounds pretty good, actually), but it's within my occasional date night range, so it should certainly be within the President's. Thousands upon thousands of Americans see plays on Broadway every year (and, if I remember correctly, the Bush's asked that Broadway be brought to them in the form of a White House viewing of The Lion King). So the extravagance, really, is the jet, limos, and entourage. You know, the things the President HAS to use to be safe?
Finally, I WANT our first couple to have some R&R. God knows they deserve it, and I can only imagine they need it. And it's not just good for them--I think it's good for all of us to see them, in their hot goin' out threads (they both looked fantastic, BTW), doing something fun together. Looking at them, all stylish, jetting off for a New York evening...it even reminded me of Camelot, and I wasn't alive then. Maybe I'm just misty eyed, but I don't see anything but good in having a little bit of romance in the White House.