As Nancy Reagan once learned after being blasted for buying priceyWhite House china during a recession, both political opponents and the general public can quickly turn against presidential glamour — at least when it comes off as less Jackie Kennedy than Marie Antoinette.
Herein, a guide to Mr. and Mrs. Obama’s top “Let Them Eat Cake” controversies:
1. The Pain in Spain
Criticism: Mrs. Obama and her daughter stayed at a five-star coastal resort where rooms run from $400 to almost $7,000 per night and the first lady was photographed wearing an off-the-shoulder top from pricey designer Jean Paul Gaultier, causing critics to blast the seeming show of extravagance during a period of 9.5 percent unemployment.
Infuriating fact: While the Obamas paid their own way for the trip, American taxpayers picked up the estimated $250,000 security tab.
Infuriating fact II: The White House had dubbed it “Recovery Summer.” D’oh!
2. Date Fright
Incident: Mr. and Mrs. Obama jetted up to New York City for a “date night” — dinner and a Broadway play — in May, 2009.
Criticism: Conservative commentators and Republican officials slagged the president for having a flashy night on the town during a recession.
Infuriating fact: A few months earlier, executives from the struggling, bailed-out American auto industry were widely criticized for traveling to Washington hearings in expensive private jets. Why should Mr. Obamaget a free pass?
3. Hawaii Five-Oh No
Incident: The Obamas took a 17-day trip Hawaii at the end of last year, the family’s annual Christmas vacation.
Criticism: Actually, Mr. Obama didn’t receive much flak — well, except for a report in the National Enquirer that claimed the president wanted to take a cheaper, less extravagant trip to Camp David in Maryland, but was overruled by Mrs. Obama, whose spending “has spiraled completely out of control.”
Infuriating fact: According to the U.K. Daily Mail, the cost of a private beachfront vacation home in Kailua, Oahu is $75,000 a month; the Hawaii Reporter reported that a similar Obama vacation in 2010 cost nearly $1.5 million.