Almost eclipsed by the PR disaster of his lavish vacation at Martha’s Vineyard was the PR debacle of President Obama’s “listening tour,” in which he blasted through small towns in a gigantic motorcade dominated by two million-dollar Canadian buses, pausing to give political speeches before hand-picked audiences. Although clearly a part of Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, this was all funded by the U.S. taxpayer, and the expense was enormous.
It turns out it might have been even more enormous than we thought, because the whole “bus tour” was a gigantic fraud. As related by Rob Port at Say Anything:
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that the buses were necessary because “The president needs to get out in the country and meet with real folks in real places.”
“A plane [the size of Air Force One] is hard to get into small communities.”
But here’s the thing: Apparently President Obama only rode the buses for a couple of miles at a time, spending the rest of the time flying from community to community in Air Force One. What’s more, the buses were flown from stop to stop as well. It’s normal practice for the President’s entire motorcade to be loaded up on cargo planes and flown from destination to destination. The buses were just a new part of that motorcade.
But why wouldn’t the presidential limousine have sufficed? Or one of the other armored vehicles that routinely travel with the President? Apparently because the President wanted the imagery of a bus. And buses are what he got.
Ben Howe at Red State marvels at the gigantic carbon footprint of this operation:
So good news America! If these reports are true, then not only do you get the pleasure of having a $1.1 million dollar bus carting the President around to “enlist” voters to fight for his reelection, but you get to marvel at the hypocrisy of an administration hell bent on destroying industries with carbon footprints too large for comfort, while they themselves are flying entire caravans of SUVs and buses in giant 747s flanked by fighter jets.
All so the president can travel a couple of miles per stop with the image that he’s on the ground with the people when in reality, he couldn’t be more detached from them, their problems, or this continually declining economy. You couldn’t ask for a better metaphor.
Let us stipulate that these reports of the bus tour should be investigated and verified thoroughly. If they hold up, this seems like a pretty big deal, and not just because of the mind-shattering hypocrisy, and the way it perfectly captures the hollow fraud of the entire Obama presidency. Both of those qualities were already in evidence when we thought Obama was actually riding those buses between the towns he visited. The extravagance of his motorcade was a metal-and-rubber incarnation of blind, big-spending Big Government stomping through communities like a rampaging dinosaur.
The cost of flying the buses, and Air Force One, between campaign stops must have been staggering. What can the American people do to stop this man from burning through our money? Do we really have to wait until 2013 to get his hand out of our wallets? There must be some oversight that could be invoked to reign in the most egregious and wasteful of the President’s personal expenses.
The advantages of incumbency in a campaign will always be formidable, but Obama is taking it to an absurd extreme… and taxpayers aren’t even getting results for their money, because the President is tanking in the polls.
Update: Blogger “Coldwarrior” strongly doubts the reports of aerial bus transportation, and offers some careful Google map work to disprove it:
First, just take a look at the route. It was relatively short (about 380 miles with a total drive time of under 7 hours from Cannon Falls to Alpha, IL) and the confirmed stops along the way were in some cases only 22 or so miles from each other and, it appears, the furthest distance between two stops was about 59 miles (Decorah, IA to Guttenberg, IA). I plotted on Google Maps the cities he went through, in this order: Cannon Falls, Zumbrota, Chatfield and Harmony, MN; Decorah, Guttenberg, Peosta, Maquoketa and Le Claire, IA; and Morrison, Atkinson, Galesburg, Alpha and Peoria, IL.
Here’s a link to a Google Map showing all the places he visited: http://g.co/maps/4kmv
Here’s the official route as it was announced: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/08/15/tune-president-obamas-town-hall-meetings-week and the itinerary for some of the events are also set forth, with the dates, locations and times.
That’s about all you’d need to debunk this. I was under the impression, as you may have been, that this “bus tour” was a long, long trip deep into Iowa and then all the way across Illinois, but it wasn’t. It was a trip that could have been covered in less than a day with a stop every 35 to 45 miles on average.
Because the distances between some of his stops were as few as 22 miles, and there’s plenty of photos and videos showing him in all of these locations, practically it would have taken longer to get to an airport, load up, take off, land, unload, etc. than to simply just make the drive. And, as you’ll see, there just aren’t the kind of airfields need in that part of the country. I know. I’ve driven much of the route over the years.
So, secondly, even if they had wanted, despite the short distances involved, to fly the buses and/or Obama ahead to the next stop, there simply are not enough airfields in that area of the country that could handle the aircraft involved (certainly not the 747 AF1 and not the C-5A or C-17 cargo aircraft that would have been needed for the buses).