Friday, February 6, 2009

Obama's Flight of Fancy

Times are tough. The economy perches on a precipice. Everyone needs a bailout, but the fountain of hundies has been stopped-up at the source, as those rascal Republicans quibble about some of the lard padding the "stimulus" bill.

And so the CEO salary setter-in-chief, Barack Obama, felt compelled yesterday evening to join congressional Democrats at their lavish retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia, where he harnessed all his rhetorical powers and moral suasion in an effort to turn a lemon into a Lamborghini.

CNN gave the episode breaking-news play, comparable to Reagan meeting Gorbachev in Reykjavik, but what stunned me the most was the background footage of that ungainly Goliath, Air Force One, lumbering across the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base, as Obama returned from his jaunt to Williamsburg (emphasis on the word jaunt).

Did Obama really take a jumbo jet to nearby Williamsburg, in order to pose for a few photos and preach to the choir? That's a 3 hour round trip by motorcade, or less than an hour by helicopter -- and he could have delivered the message by teleconference right from the Oval Office. An array of smaller aircraft sits at his disposal. Yet he felt compelled to travel there in the most expensive and ostentatious fashion possible, indifferent, apparently, to the jarring incongruities.

What kind of hypocrisy does it bespeak when he's setting executive pay scales for bailout beneficiaries and warning of economic hardship for average Americans if his plan isn't enacted, yet puddle-jumping with Air Force One? It's as outlandish, in its way, as Detroit auto executives flying Gulfstreams to Washington to ask for a handout. Yet none of CNN's talking heads even noticed how the scene played on a symbolic level.

The AP this morning touches on the privileged and perk-filled life of the economic stimulators and job creators in Congress, but one piece, focused on party retreats, can't do the subject, or the hypocrisy, justice. But credit ABC News, which just did a segment on Obama's perks, with recognizing that self-righteous Washingtonians are almost as pampered as Wall Streeters, even if their salaries aren't as astronomical.

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