American Elephants

The Grotesque Opulence of a Presidential Trip. by The Elephant's Child

When things get too hot in the Nation’s Capitol and the scandals mount, leaders are apt to get out of town. Redirect the news. Give the media something else to focus on. Distraction. Never mind the sequester, never mind Americans out of work,. The President and his family are heading for Africa. The trip will not be cheap. It is expected to cost American taxpayers $60 to $100 million, according to the Washington Post. Presidential travel does not come cheap.

When President Obama goes on an extended trip to sub-Saharan Africa, the federal agencies charged with protecting the president won’t take any chances. Hundreds of U.S. Secret Service agents will be dispatched to secure facilities in Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania. A Navy aircraft carrier or amphibious ship with a fully staffed medical trauma center will be stationed offshore in case of a presidential emergency.

Military cargo planes, lots of them, will airlift 56 support vehicles, including 14 limousines and  three trucks loaded with sheets of bullet-proof glass to cover the windows of the hotels where the first family will stay. Fighter jets will fly in shifts giving 24-hour coverage over the president’s airspace so they can intervene quickly if an errant plane gets too close.

“The extraordinary security provisions — costing the government tens of millions of dollars are outlined in a confidential internal planning document obtained by The Washington Post. While the preparations appear to be in line with similar travels in the past, the document offers an unusual glimpse into the colossal efforts to protect the U.S. commander-in-chief on trips abroad.”

After the paper questioned the costs of a planned family safari, the White House canceled that excursion. “The president and the first lady had also planned to take a Tanzanian safari as part of the trip, which would have required the president’s special counter-assault team to carry sniper rifles with high-caliber rounds that could neutralize cheetahs, lions or other animals if they became a threat, according to the planning document. Nut the White House canceled the safari on Wednesday following inquiries from The Washington Post about the trip’s purpose and expense, according to a person familiar with the decision.” We need more inquiry about the trip’s purpose and expense.

The paper adds, “Obama’s trip could cost the federal government $60 million to 100 million based on the costs of similar African trips in recent years.The Secret Service planning document, which was provided to the Post by a person who is concerned about the amount of resources necessary for the trip, does not specify costs.” And the purpose of the trip is…?

White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes says the president will get “great bang for the buck” for US foreign policy as a result of President Obama’s trip to Africa at month’s end. Despite high costs, NSC Rhodes defends President Obama’s upcoming trip to Africa. He says the US would cede leadership there if Obama didn’t go.”Cede leadership there?” What an utterly embarrassing thing to say. Did any other leader in the history of the world travel in such grotesque opulence?

And schoolchildren are not allowed tours of their White House, which are conducted by volunteers, because Obama wants the public to feel the pain of the sequester and blame Republicans for their intransigence.  What is wrong with this picture?

2 Comments so far
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“He says the US would cede leadership there if Obama didn’t go.”

Hey, Obama has long since ceded leadership of the country he actually, you know, leads; do think he can afford to cede any more in places that he has little-to-no responsibility or influence over?


Comment by Lon Mead

This is puzzling. From what he says (and granted, what he says does not necessarily hold meaning) Obama believed that the world hated George W. Bush, and not understanding that respect and fear are the desirable modes, he wants to have the people in these countries see him and cheer him? I think he really believes he has improved our relations with everyone but Britain and Israel, and he doesn’t care about them. At least whenever he ventures on the subject, that’s what he seems to believe.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

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