A Luxury Christmas At the White House

Andrew Malcolm at brings us the latest glimpse into the fabulously opulent lifestyle of downgraded America’s First Family:

The economy may be weak, unemployment strong and the first family soon to vacate the White House for another half-month of vacation in Hawaii.

But the Obamas have gone all out in decorating their house this year, including a nearly quarter-ton gingerbread White House.

They have also installed 37 different Christmas trees. Thirty of the trees are live, or were, including one nearly 19-feet tall from Wisconsin. Seven of the three dozen Christmas trees are artificial or homemade including, of course, one from recyclables.

“We have 37 Christmas trees here at the White House–37!” Michelle Obama excitedly told a recent group of visitors. “That’s a lot, right? Yes, that’s a lot of trees. And we also have a 400-pound White House gingerbread house.”

(Emphases mine.)  Most amusingly, the First Lady’s theme for the Christmas extravaganza is “Share, Give, Shine.”  As always, you little people will do all the sharing and giving.  If you need the Obamas, they’ll be in Hawaii.

As Malcolm notes, every Administration has extensive Christmas decorations.  I don’t know how this one stacks up to the others, but the Obamas do have a reputation for jaw-dropping royal extravagance at taxpayer expense.  The First Lady defended the amazing Christmas display as an attempt to build national morale during tough times:

“I know for some of you, this holiday season will be tough,” she told some visitors. “But hopefully, it’s times like this that make you know that you live in a grateful nation, and that we are just so inspired by your sacrifice. And hopefully, this is a memory that will stay with you every holiday season.”

She was referring to the sacrifices of military families, as many of the decorations are meant to honor them. 

There is some logic to the notion that a bargain-basement White House Christmas would be needlessly depressing to a country staggering through a hard economic winter… but would the media have accepted that from Cindy McCain, had she found herself First Lady?  I think we all know the answer.  The juxtapositions of regal White House life with unemployment lines and foreclosed houses would be everywhere.  For that matter, the personal wealth of the McCains would be held against them, in a way the entirely public funding of the Obama lifestyle is not.

Besides, aren’t we supposed to hate those who live opulent lifestyles?  The whole point of Obama’s class-warfare rhetoric, now unabashedly shifted into the highest gear he can reach without pounding his shoe on a podium, is that rich people have far too much money, and could make do with so much less.  Why doesn’t that apply to him personally at all?  He doesn’t need gigantic motorcades for every journey, or Air Force One for every flight.  He doesn’t need star-studded vacation extravaganzas, when Camp David is close to Washington, and was plenty good enough for the Bushes. 

Combined with the remarkable comfort level class warriors generally display for political leaders and celebrities with the right Party credentials, it’s enough to make you think they’re not really all that opposed to staggering wealth… as long as the “wrong” people don’t have it.

There’s plenty of room for the President to make do with a little less, without forcing him to endure any sort of hardship… but he never, ever does that, not even in the smallest way.  Michelle Obama is quite right: 37 Christmas trees is a lot.