Richard Nixon retreated to his bunker. Barack Obama flies off to his island.
We do not know if a little man in an ice-cream suit shouted “Look boss! De plane! De plane!” upon the big boss’s arrival on Air Force One. We do know that Martha’s Vineyard is the president’s fantasy island.
In Obama’s halcyon days, right after the campaign but before that governing part, three-fourths of Vineyard voters cast ballots for the Hope-Change ticket. They overwhelmingly passed a nonbinding resolution on that same Election Day declaring health care a right. The bluest town in the bluest state just happens to be on the island where the president passes the dog days of summer. In Aquinnah, a stunning nine out of ten voters cast ballots for Barack Obama in 2008. Even Bashar al-Assad struggles to muster such gaudy percentages.
A vacation on Martha’s Vineyard for this president is as much a break from the stresses of office as it is from reality. Like the courtiers within his gated compound on Pennsylvania Avenue, the seasonal denizens of Martha’s Vineyard speak with one voice on Obama’s greatness. And they come to their sycophancy without subsidy. The equivalent getaway would have meant summering on a mountain-top cabin in Idaho for Obama’s predecessor, or, for the last Democrat president, absconding every year to Hedonism II. The islanders, in other words, are Barack’s people.
The people who thought they were his people aren’t happy with this. African Americans voted for Obama in greater proportions than even the people of Aquinnah. But President Obama is not making any courtesy visits to Cleveland, Ohio or Flint, Michigan these days. Where’s their vacay-stimulus from the president’s loose-pocketed entourage?
“We don’t know why on this trip that…he’s not in any black communities,” California Representative Maxine Waters said of the president’s recent bus tour. To get Obama’s attention, scholar-celebrity Cornel West and television personality Tavis Smiley embarked on their own parallel bus tour that visited impoverished communities. But if an African American unemployment rate of 15.9 percent doesn’t grab the first African American president by the lapels, it’s unlikely that a pair of attention hounds can.
When the president’s bus tour stopped off at 98-percent-white Cannon Falls, Minnesota last week, one local suck-up announced, “First, I want to echo the sentiments of those who have spoken before me in praising you and thanking you for all of your efforts and all the things that you’ve tried to do during probably one of the most difficult situations faced by any president in the face of unreasonable obstruction and opposition.” In a nation where less than 40 percent of the public approve of his job performance, nobody at the choreographed, Dear Leader, faux-town-hall meeting uttered a critical word.
A few days before the Potemkin bus tour, Obama attended garish fundraisers at Manhattan’s Ritz Carlton and Harvey Weinstein’s Greenwich Village pad. There, the president cavorted with fashion designer Vera Wang, comedian Jimmy Fallon, actress Gwyneth Paltrow, and others who paid $35,800 to mingle with him. How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?
Kings sought separation from their Medieval subjects through stone walls and a moat. The Atlantic Ocean and the fences of the 28-acre Martha’s Vineyard manse serve the purpose for the imperious president. Like everybody else, Obama wants insulation from his policies.
This president isn’t a man of the people. He is a man of his people.
In Martha’s Vineyard, Greenwich Village, Washington, DC, and the president’s other haunts, Americans can still afford to hope. But everywhere else—with unemployment decimating jobs, a mercurial stock market changing retirement plans, our past debts weighing down our future, and the specter of inflation looming—what little people can afford brings despair.
The president’s magic hat of gimmicks is empty. His words, emptier still. And our wallets?
If the president wants a vacation from his vacation, he can return to the nation’s capital without the threat of an ego bruise. They carry MSNBC and sell the New York Times there. Our pain has been their gain: the worse the economy the bigger the government. You can play golf in the district, too.
Washington, DC is almost like Martha’s Vineyard. Just pretend the Potomac is the Atlantic and the Hawk and Dove is the Black Dog. It’s like living on an island.
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