When a pres­i­dent runs a tab

Tak­ing a va­ca­tion from the White House is com­pli­cated and very, very ex­pen­sive

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL -

Only the fiercest par­ti­san churl be­grudges the pres­i­dent, any pres­i­dent, a few days out of the Oval Of­fice. Ev­ery­body looks for­ward to a sum­mer va­ca­tion, and pres­i­dents have the same wants and wishes their con­stituents do.

Only this same churl would ex­pect Pres­i­dent Obama and his fam­ily to spend their Christ­mas hol­i­days at Dis­ney­land, shoot minia­ture golf and sup at Cracker Bar­rel, but the Oba­mas have re­ally put on the dog over the eight years of the Obama era. Our Dave Boyer re­ports in The Wash­ing­ton Times that their get­aways have cost $35 mil­lion, give or take, over these years.

No mod­ern pres­i­dent can take a va­ca­tion on the cheap, or even on a tab that would be fa­mil­iar to any­one else. He takes with him an enor­mous tail of at­tend­ing peo­ple and para­pher­na­lia, Se­cret Ser­vice agents, mil­i­tary aides and other government em­ployes to guar­an­tee their safety and com­fort. The pres­i­dent takes the White House with him.

It wasn’t al­ways this way. Abra­ham Lin­coln re­tired to rooms at an old sol­diers’ home in what was then sub­ur­ban Wash­ing­ton. Grover Cleve­land had a sum­mer home in a sub­urb that was named for him and is now not very far from down­town Wash­ing­ton. Woodrow Wilson rented a pala­tial house over­look­ing the Gulf of Mex­ico on the Mis­sis­sippi coast, and Franklin D. Roo­sevelt spent trysts, not with Eleanor but with his mis­tress, in Ge­or­gia. Straight ar­row Harry Tru­man and Bess va­ca­tioned at a Navy base in Key West, Fla., and Dwight Eisen­hower of­ten re­tired to his farm near the iconic bat­tle­field at Get­tys­burg. John F. Kennedy had a fam­ily com­pound in Florida. Bill Clin­ton em­ployed a poll­ster to find out where his con­stituents thought he should va­ca­tion and al­ter­nated between Martha’s Vine­yard, off the Mas­sachusetts coast, and the Grand Canyon in Ari­zona. Ge­orge H.W. Bush re­laxed by speed­ing through the At­lantic surf in his cig­a­rette boat near the Bush com­pound in Maine.

But the Oba­mas have no es­tab­lished va­ca­tion digs of their own, and must re­sort to rent­ing. But rent­ing is not, not to put too fine a point on it, all bad. This year they’re rent­ing an ocean-front house in the town of Kailua, on the north­east cor­ner of the Hawaii is­land of Oahu, where houses in the neigh­bor­hood typ­i­cally fetch $10 mil­lion if you’re buy­ing, and up to $10,000 a night if you’re rent­ing.

The pres­i­dent’s itin­er­ary on one day last week, as de­scribed by Mr. Boyer in these pages, was typ­i­cal, a work­out in the gym at a nearby Marine Corps base, fol­lowed by a mo­tor­cade to Bel­lows Beach, de­scribed by an ac­com­pa­ny­ing White House pool re­porter as “a wide strip of ma­ture pines edg­ing up to a white-sand beach. The wa­ter of­fers four dis­tinct shades of aqua­ma­rine go­ing out to what ap­pears to be a reef, where white break­ers form a bound­ary with a sap­phire blue Pa­cific be­yond.”

Such lux­u­ri­ous bed and break­fast is paid for by the Oba­mas. Ev­ery­thing else is on the tax­payer. Ju­di­cial Watch re­viewed government records which re­vealed that the Se­cret Ser­vice spent $1.2 mil­lion on travel costs for the Oba­mas’ idyl in Hawaii last year, in­clud­ing $671,000 for ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tions and $165,000 for 103 rental cars.

Tom Fit­ton, pres­i­dent of Ju­di­cial Watch, thinks pres­i­dents abuse the Se­cret Ser­vice and the Air Force. “Un­nec­es­sary pres­i­den­tial travel for fundrais­ing and va­ca­tions on the tax­payer dime would be a good tar­get for re­form by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

Keep­ing a pres­i­dent is ex­pen­sive. Per­haps the Don­ald could va­ca­tion at one of his own re­sorts next year. He might even get a pres­i­den­tial dis­count.

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