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Lavish Obama vacation in time of economic turmoil raises eyebrows

As the U.S. economy endures high unemployment and a jittery stock market, President Obama has preached sacrifice and fiscal discipline. But the pictures coming out of a sunsplashed Spanish resort this week may be sending a different message.

First lady Michelle Obama is on a five-day trip to a luxury resort along with a handful of friends, her younger daughter, Sasha, aides and Secret Service personnel. Her office said the first family will pay for personal expenses, but declined to reveal the taxpayer cost for the government employees. The president stayed home in the United States, as did daughter Malia, 12, who is at camp.

The trip provided plenty of fodder for television news shows, talk-show hosts and bloggers.

Critics portrayed the foreign getaway as tone deaf to the economic anxiety back home. Earlier in the week, the first lady was photographed walking through the streets of the Costa del Sol region wearing a one-shouldered Jean Paul Gaultier top.

Every first family takes vacations. The criticism aimed at Michelle Obama is that she chose to visit a foreign country rather than remain in the United States and support its fragile economy.

In July, the first lady flew to the Florida Panhandle, a tourist spot hit hard by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and delivered the message that for parents "looking for things to do with their kids this summer ... this is a wonderful place to visit."

The opulence of the European trip also has drawn scrutiny. Michelle Obama is staying at the Hotel Villa Padierna, a Ritz-Carlton resort in the mountains outside Marbella. The resort has two golf courses, a posh spa with Turkish baths, views of the Mediterranean Sea and a high-end restaurant specializing in avant-garde fare. Room rates start at $400 and rise to $6,500 for a two-bedroom villa with a private pool and 24-hour butler service.

The danger for the Obamas is that the trip may feed perceptions they are out of touch with struggling American families, said Chris Wilson, a Republican pollster.

"This in and of itself doesn't hurt President Obama, but it plants a seed in voters' minds ... that 'they're not like me,' " he said.

While her friends arrived in Spain on their own, Michelle Obama flew in on a type of aircraft also used by Vice President Joseph Biden. It costs the government $11,555 an hour to operate the plane, according to the Air Force. Assuming a nearly eight-hour flight to nearby Málaga, the total round-trip cost of the flight is about $178,000.

The Obama family will reimburse the government an amount equal to two first-class tickets — for mother and daughter Sasha, Air Force officials said. A round-trip first-class flight to Málaga costs about $7,400 apiece, without discounts or restrictions.

Anita McBride, who was chief of staff to former first lady Laura Bush, was not surprised the trip has its critics.

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"When you are a public figure, it can be difficult to lead a private life. Despite the fact that much of this trip is paid for personally, the American people know that there are costs borne by the taxpayers and it's to be expected that the more expensive the trip, the greater the risk of criticism," McBride said.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs declined to answer questions about the vacation, saying it is a "private trip."

An unspecified number of Secret Service agents and aides are staying at government expense. Edwin Donovan, a spokesman for the Secret Service, declined to say how many agents are with the first lady in Spain.

An Obama administration official said the first lady is accompanied by "a handful of longtime family friends — it's moms and daughters — and it's minimal staff." One aide on the trip is the first lady's deputy chief of staff, Melissa Winter.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the destination was chosen by Michelle Obama and her friends.

On Friday, Spanish police cleared off a 100-yard stretch of beach in Marbella for Michelle Obama and Sasha, 9. As the first lady rested inside a canvas hut by the shore, Sasha splashed around in the sea and a security guard swam with her.

The first lady is to meet with King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia on Sunday at their summer residence on the island of Mallorca.

After the first lady returns home, she and her family will travel to the Gulf Coast for the weekend of Aug. 14, followed by a 10-day vacation on Martha's Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts.

Click to view image: 'c11e250c9800-alg_michelle_obama_time.jpg'

Added: Aug-9-2010 Occurred On: Aug-9-2010
By: souljah45
Tags: Michelle, Obama, liberal elite
Views: 7880 | Comments: 29 | Votes: 1 | Favorites: 0 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 1
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  • Let them eat cake!!!

    Posted Aug-9-2010 By 

    (8) | Report

  • Dont worry guys.... Its not US tax money that is being spend, its Spanish tax money...... Spain is paying those holidays, kind of publicity stunt for turism in Spain.....

    Posted Aug-9-2010 By 

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  • The ultimate welfare queen.

    Posted Aug-9-2010 By 

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  • Comment of user '2daloo' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • The money would've been better spent on getting her an ass reduction and fixing her teeth. She's a fugly embarrassment...

    Posted Aug-9-2010 By 

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  • Meanwhile TIME magazine preaches to the masses on it's front cover

    "The Case Against Summer Vacation"
    We romanticize it. But all that downtime is making our kids fall behind-escpecially those who can least affor to

    Posted Aug-9-2010 By 

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  • gotta love how many racists there are on Liveleak.

    Posted Aug-9-2010 By 

    (-1) | Report

  • Oh yeah... I mean he should really get impeached, presidents cannot do that, and especially not a black president with his black family....


    Posted Aug-9-2010 By 

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  • You all think this is news? ahahah

    It's the PRESIDENT... you think they are going to go to a motel rather a nice hotel? Keep dreaming, its been that way for every President! LUXURY duh..... it's the Pres!

    And Who really fucking cares if they closed 100 yards of a beach?

    Posted Aug-9-2010 By 

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    • Comment of user 'Amusing' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
    • you're right, he's not with her on holiday....

      ,,,he's at work, trying to keep a country full of opposing forces from ruining what they are striving for as a nation.

      Posted Aug-9-2010 By 

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    • Obama, who enjoys shooting hoops with family and friends, will take on a couple of tougher -- and much taller --opponents Sunday: the Phoenix Suns%u2019 Grant Hill and the Houston Rockets%u2019 Shane Battier.

      The game of presidential pickup will be held at Fort McNair in southwest Washington before an audience of %u201Cwounded warriors%u201D and participants in the White House mentoring program, the White House press office said.

      Hill told the Washington Post he was in town to play, along with More..

      Posted Aug-9-2010 By 

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    • Obama is capping his birthday week with an afternoon of golfing on Saturday and a barbecue on Sunday.

      The White House says the president went golfing on Saturday with eight friends, some with ties to his college days, his hometown of Chicago and his childhood home state of Hawaii. They were spending the afternoon at the Andrews Air Force Base course.

      On Sunday, Obama plans to host a barbecue for friends at the White House, ending a week in which he turned 49 without his family around.

      Posted Aug-9-2010 By 

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    • Comment of user 'Amusing' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!