It’s good to be the King; it sucks to be the Peasants
By John D. Turner
14 Aug 2013

When Mitt Romney was running for President the first time around, a news article surfaced stating that while vacationing, the Romney’s put the family dog on top of their car (in a kennel, with appropriate windscreen) during the trip, because there was no room inside the vehicle. Liberals howled about his “insensitivity” and “cruelty” while late-night comedians were full of dog jokes at Romney’s expense. How, those on the left bleated, could you possibly vote for a man for President who is so insensitive that he would strap his family pet to the top of a moving vehicle?

Later, when President Obama mentioned eating dog as a kid in Indonesia, the late-night comedians, quick to find material to generate laughs and not particularly caring at whose expense, were full of dog jokes aimed at President Obama, but those same libs who had excoriated Mitt Romney had little or nothing to say. After all, that’s what people in Indonesia do. Apparently, strapping your dog, in a kennel, to the top of the roof of your car is more heinous than eating poor Rover outright.

It seems that, for all their other differences, when vacationing President Obama has a similar problem as Mitt Romney; to wit, what to do with the family pet? Apparently, like the Romney family station wagon, President Obama can’t seem to find the room in Air Force One for the family dog. Strapping a kennel to the outside of a plane is a non-starter, obviously. So what to do?

Well, send him in his own private jet, of course!

I can see where he might have a problem (tongue firmly planted in cheek). Air Force One is not the largest aircraft in the world. Designated a VC-25, it is a heavily customized version of the Boeing 747-200B series aircraft. As a passenger airliner it is designed to carry up to 550 people (depending on configuration). The Presidential version holds considerably fewer; however it can still accommodate more than 70 passengers.

The plane has 4000 square feet of floor space spread throughout three decks; considerably more than the Romney’s station wagon one would suppose. And one would think that somewhere, say, down in the cargo deck, well away from the first family, there should be enough space to secrete the presidential pooch.

But apparently not. Instead Fido is making the trip on his very own V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor. What a country! No budget problems here!

At least all the Obama’s took the same plane this time. It’s hard to keep track of the specifics at times what with the pressure of multiple vacation trips. In fact, for the first three months of this year, they averaged a vacation a month. The Obama’s started the year on vacation in Hawaii in January. During the Presidents Day weekend in February, the first lady and daughters went to Aspen, Colorado for a little ski trip. Spring Break saw daughters Sasha and Malea visit two locations; the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas for some sun, waves, and sand action, and then off to Sun Valley in Idaho for some skiing; the first family version of “surf and turf” I guess. Bo made the trip to Hawaii – on a separate aircraft once again, which is not unusual; he never travels with the Obama’s under any circumstances.

And this doesn’t include the trip the President made to Florida to shoot a few rounds with Tiger, or the “business trip” to Africa which included an eight-day family vacation visiting South Africa, Tanzania, and Senegal, costing taxpayers a reputed 100 million dollars all total.

Of course, it’s not like other presidents haven’t taken their families with them on vacation when touring various foreign countries, all at taxpayer expense. Both Presidents’ Bush did, as well as President Clinton. It isn’t so much the trip as the timing. At a time when the country is so in debt, are these trips absolutely necessary? Isn’t there somewhere that costs could be cut? Here in the Air Force, TDY budgets have been slashed to zero. Conferences have been cancelled. Nice-to-have trips have been chopped and even “necessary” travel has been curtailed; we are making more use of video teleconferencing and old-fashioned telephone calls.

Training budgets have been cut; quality-of-life projects have been cancelled. We have an office full of people currently sitting in my office space while their room is being renovated. The actual renovation was completed three months ago. They still don’t know when they will be able to move back into their space though, because despite the room being finished, the contract for the furniture that was to go into the room was cancelled due to the budget cuts. So unless they are to sit on the floor, they have to remain in my spaces while theirs sits empty; meanwhile I have inbounds that now have no place to sit when they get here.

Just another example of government “efficiency” (and your tax dollars) at work.

Yet, while hundreds of thousands of federal workers are out on furlough, and the White House is closed to the public due to lack of funds, the President and his family seem to find the time and money to take vacation trips pretty much where ever and whenever they like. They even have the money it seems to send their dog by separate aircraft.

I have lost track of the number of vacations the first family has taken this year, much less since taking office. I can understand why he wanted to get re-elected! Meanwhile, my family, once again, will not be taking a vacation this year. We don’t have the money, you see.

My wife would like to take a small cruise; 7 days in the Caribbean. You can get some good deals for around $600-$800 per person total. Unfortunately, it isn’t in the family budget. For those of us who have to live on a budget, who can’t just print up the money whenever we like, reality bites. Maybe next year, dear…

I have a friend on furlough. So far, he has lost $3000 in pay; $500 a paycheck for six paychecks. Thank goodness the furlough was cut to only six days. It was originally supposed to be 22; that would have been $11,000 he would have lost. Do you have a spare $11,000 you don’t need? He doesn’t. Can you afford to have your pay arbitrarily cut by 20%? He can’t but so what? It beats not having a job I guess. And why? Because supposedly the government needs to “save money,” that’s why. You couldn’t tell that by looking at the President’s vacation schedule.

I have always been told that a leader should lead by example. How does my friend tell his family that they are going to do without so that the Obama girls can party in the Bahamas? How do you tell school kids that they can’t visit the White House because the government doesn’t have enough money to keep the place open to the public, but they do have enough money to fly the first dog on his own private jet to Martha’s Vineyard for vacation?

When George H. W. Bush was running for re-election, there was a famous video made where he went shopping and encountered a laser scanner checkout line. He had never seen one apparently, and much was made of how “out of touch” the President was with the “common folk” around the country. This was one of the factors, along with a pretty lackluster campaign, that led to him losing his re-election bid to Bill Clinton. When is the American public going to realize how out of touch this president is with the rest of us out here in the great unwashed?

A record number of Americans are on food stamps. The unemployment rate remains stubbornly above 7.5%. Black unemployment is much worse, with teenage black unemployment off the scale. Labor force participation is the lowest in 32 years. Millions have given up looking for work. Millions more, unemployment having run out, have switched to disability instead. Major cities are going broke – Detroit has declared bankruptcy and others are not far behind. Entire states stand on the brink of insolvency. The price of gas is still twice what it was when he took office.

The National Debt stands at $16.7 trillion and growing, with the President pushing raising the debt ceiling even higher. Ominously, interest rates have begun creeping up.

And yet, the president doesn’t even pretend to cut expenses when it comes to himself and his family’s lifestyle.

When we went to war in Afghanistan, President Bush gave up golf. He said that it just didn’t seem right to him to spend time playing golf when young men and women, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons were dying overseas at his order. We are still in Afghanistan. Our men and women are still dying. On 6 May, 2013, President Barack Obama chalked up his 120th round of golf since taking office. I hope he’s good at it.

Since taking office, the president has asked us out here to sacrifice in order to get the country moving again. He has asked us to sacrifice in order to reduce the budget deficit. He has taken the lead in this by freezing my pay for the past three years and ensuring that I won’t be able to spend extravagantly while others suffer. Meanwhile, his kids visit the Bahamas, go skiing in Colorado and Idaho, vacation in Hawaii, visit Africa, and the first family flies their dog around the country in a government jet. Anyone of you reading this get to do things like that? I know I don’t and neither do most of the folks I know.

Does the President even have a budget, when it comes to vacation? Or do the Obama’s just go where ever they like whenever they want in any manner they desire?