American Elephants

It’s The Optics, Mr. President. It Just Doesn’t Look Good. by The Elephant's Child

The Sequester has famously deprived school children from their hopes of touring the White House, although 1). Sequester cuts are in the upcoming budget, not the current one, and 2). The White House tours are conducted by volunteers. The Sequester, you see, is about drastic cuts to the federal budget engineered by tightwad Republicans, although it was designed by the White House as a trap for Republicans.

Republicans recognized it for what it was, spat it out and said fine, let’s sequester.

Obama is a fierce competitor, and decided to embark on a war of politicized public relations. He would show those nasty Republicans by making the public feel the pain of Republicans’ lack of consideration for his spending habits.

This president is a waster, a spendthrift, a scattergood. He likes the perks of the office, and it doesn’t occur to him how his extravagance appears to the millions of people who are suffering without a paycheck and out of a job. He is President of the United States and he doesn’t want you to forget it for a minute and he is entitled to the good things.

So he flew his 747 jumbo jet Air Force One on a four-hour round trip to Chicago as Andrew Malcolm notes  “at a cost of $182,000 per flight hour for a 15 minute teleprompter speech that could have been delivered from anywhere on the subject of —wait for it— reducing our use of oil.”

Joe Biden flew to London  in February with an unusually large entourage for an overnight stay at the Hyatt Regency for $459,388.65. Then on to Paris for a single night at the Hotel Intercontinental Paris Le Grande for $585,000.50.  Must have been a good-sized entourage. I haven’t had occasion to stay in a hotel for a while, but this is ridiculous.

The royal daughters are spending their spring break in the Bahamas. There is enough money in President Obama’s FY 2013 federal budget to provide Secret Service protection for his daughters, but not enough to keep the White House open for school children’s tours given by unpaid volunteers. It’s “the optics,” an annoying phrase that has displaced “the way it looks.”

The president made a big deal about the potential closing of restrooms in our National Parks, and not having rangers available to conduct tours, perhaps even shutting down some facilities. So today he found it possible to commit the federal government to acquiring five new national monuments.  Just coincidental, I’m sure, but all five are located in blue states that voted for Mr. Obama’s re-election.

Doc Hastings (R-WA) said “this is the government spending money it doesn’t have on properties it doesn’t own.” The new monuments are in Delaware, Maryland, New Mexico, Ohio and Washington State. The President managed this by using the Antiquities Act to circumvent Congress. He must have had some glimmer that “the optics” weren’t too good because they chose to bar the press from the signing ceremony.


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Oh no, I think congratulations are certainly in order… only Obama could think to purchase 5 new national monuments to close and furlough the staff because of budget cuts, although I do detect the hand of VP Joe “we-have-to-spend-money-to-not-go-bankrupt” Biden (he’s been pushing for that “First State” site for a while now).

Yep, at a time when Americans are tightening their belts, Obama and Biden (with the support of the Democrat Party) are there to remind us how to truly squander taxpayer money. Counter-intuitive? You bet!

Seriously, this is a level of stupidity that you can only get from a committee (although I’m sure Biden does his best!).


Comment by Lon Mead

I don’t know about the monuments in other states, but from the pictures, they’re not too promising. I have seen the upper Rio Grande, and I was SO disappointed. I expected it to be a big river (Grande) and not only was it small, but unimpressive and not even a pretty river.

The San Juans are filled with State Parks, there are even some small islands that are wholly parks. Where they will put a national monument, I’m not sure. There was the Pig War, of course, but American Camp there is already a National Historic Park. All to do with the Treaty of 1846 (54-40 or Fight!) settling the border between the Oregon Territory and Canada (Hudsons’Bay Co.) and to do with a Hudson’s Bay pig that was uprooting Oregon Territory potatoes, and there is English Camp as well, and a brief war, at least with threats. I counted up 17 State Parks aside from several county parks and a couple of Islands that are “wilderness areas.”So you can see a new National Monument is badly needed now that land prices are sky high and the glitterati are moving in. Yep. High level of stupidity.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

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