It all started with an email invitation. My reaction after opening this message swung from excitement and serious tingling, to disbelief and suspicion. I could not imagine what I had done that was wonderful enough to earn an invitation to the White House for a party. Our team had an event every week, I faithfully listened to briefing calls from our state and national leaders, we had been involved in some innovative projects – but a holiday party at the White house was over the top.
I had fantasized about meeting the President, when he was in the SF area, shaking his hand, mumbling something coherent and trying not to pass out. Going to Washington DC, being able to attend an event at the White House with the President and Mrs. Obama was way beyond anything I had ever imagined.
Then that dark voice that lives in my head began to emerge. I kept looking at the part of the invitation that asked for my social security number and date of birth. Was this just a clever scheme to steal my identity? Drats… I called the number on the invitation but it was an answering machine. I wrote to my Regional Field Organizer asking her if she knew anything about it – Nope. I wrote to another volunteer asking if she had received an invitation, Nada…
On behalf of the entire Obama family, I’d like to wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy holiday season. For us, the holidays are a chance to eat some good food, sing some holiday songs (occasionally out of tune), affirm our faith, and spend time with the family and friends who make our lives so blessed.
Over the past year, Sasha and Malia have continued to amaze Michelle and me with their steadiness and poise. One highlight was when Michelle and the girls accompanied me on my first official trip to South America as president. One evening, after a day of meetings and cultural programs, we visited the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. As we stared up at this wonder of the modern world, I knew it was a moment the girls wouldn’t soon forget, particularly since it was one of the few times I didn’t have to remind them to turn off their iPods.
…. Michelle is doing well, and has been hitting the road almost as often as I have. In April, she and Dr. Jill Biden launched a partnership called “Joining Forces” to support our nation’s military families. She even appeared on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to build a brand new house for Barbara Marshall, a 15-year Navy Veteran. And for a second year, her Let’s Move! campaign got children excited about healthy eating and exercise.
When I see Michelle standing with a proud military family, or leading kids in jumping jacks on the White House lawn, it reminds me how lucky I am to have her. People always tell me I “married up,” and I couldn’t agree more.
July 2005: After a safari weekend, Laura Bush stepped out of a dusty SUV with her twin daughters on Monday to serve as a goodwill ambassador in Africa for President Bush.
The first lady’s whirl through South Africa, Tanzania and Rwanda this week comes on the heels of a Scotland summit where British Prime Minister Tony Blair made alleviating Africa’s mass suffering the top agenda item for Bush and leaders of other wealthy countries.
Mrs. Bush and her 23-year-old daughters, Barbara and Jenna, spent the weekend at the Madikwe Game Reserve on the South African-Botswana border….
The first lady’s staff asked photographers to refrain from shooting the twins as they boarded the plane in Gaborone, Botswana, for the flight to Cape Town, on grounds that they were not part of the official delegation.
From what I’ve read, Laura Bush did some good work (eg see here) on her trips to Africa (she visited the continent five times and traveled in all to 10 different countries during Shrub’s reign, more visits than any other First Lady before her). Apart from a few voices, though, there weren’t too many complaints when she took her daughters to Africa, part of the 2005 trip a private safari.
Needless to say (yawn), the right are attacking Michelle Obama again because her trip to Africa will end with ….. a private safari.
I won’t link the site where I saw this discussed (one of the f**kwits there is posting racist photos in the thread), but I liked this exchange:
Question: Why were the right not outraged when Laura Bush took her daughters to Africa and they went on safari?
Answer: Because she’s white?
More on First Lady Michelle Obama’s African visit here
Steve Benen: Disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich recently boasted that presidential campaigns as extraordinary as his are only seen “once or twice in a century.” He may have been onto something. After all, it takes a special kind of presidential candidate to go on vacation three weeks after launching a campaign:
…..Gingrich has raised eyebrows among supporters and political observers by taking a vacation with his wife – during the same week prominent religious conservatives are gathering in Washington. Gingrich, who has been married three times, has been aggressively courting the religious conservatives, including many of the “pro-marriage” activists gathering in Washington.
Sure, everyone takes breaks, but Gingrich has been a candidate for three weeks. To borrow a 2008 cliche, if the former Speaker can’t even handle a month on the campaign trail without a vacation, how in the world does he expect to handle the pressure of being the president of the United States?
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama mark the beginning of Passover with a Seder in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House, April 18, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Steve Benen: ….The good news is, the right has stopped obsessing over President Obama picking his favorites in the NCAA tournament. The bad news is, conservatives have moved onto something nearly as silly … President Obama landed in Brazil Saturday to learn about its booming economy, but conservatives called the trip a distraction from worldwide turmoil.
….This may be hard for conservatives to understand – when they think “Brazil,” they think “Carnival” – but Latin America has many quickly growing economies, and Obama is visiting the region to promote trade and open markets. The point is to take steps that will strengthen the U.S. economy, which the right should at least pretend to care about.
What’s more, the visit was scheduled months ago. It’s not as if the president woke up Friday morning and thought, “Fire up Air Force One; I’m in the mood to see Rio.”
I can appreciate why the timing of the trip may seem inconvenient, but the logistics of presidential travel abroad are laborious, and canceling would have proven problematic. Besides, there’s always weighty issues on a president’s to-do list, and if the White House had pushed off the Latin American visits until later in the year, there’d very likely be important developments going on then, too.
What we’re seeing from the right, then, is criticism for the sake of criticism. The discourse has reached the point at which Republicans and their media figures have to be whining about something at all times. Obama is stopping in Chile, Brazil, and El Salvador as part of a broader economic agenda, so the right feels the need to pretend to be outraged.
With pen in hand, President Barack Obama sits at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office as Staff Secretary Lisa Brown organizes a stack of 35 bills for him to sign into law, Jan. 4, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
You know all those Teapublicans and their media buddies who are complaining about the amount of time the President takes off?
In fairness to them, they were just as critical of President Bush. And they concede that he took waaaaaaaay more time off than President Obama. Ho ho, kidding …. they tend to, um, overlook these pesky facts and figures:
President Obama (over two years)
Vacation trips: 10 (spanning 58 days)
Trips to Camp David: 15 (spanning 35 days)
Total over two years: 93 days
** Percentage days ‘off’: 12.7 **
George W Bush (over eight years)
Trips to Camp David: 149 (spanning 487 days)
Trips to his Texas ranch: 77 (spanning 490 days)
Trips to his parents’ home in Maine: 11 (spanning 43 days)
Total over eight years: 1020 days
** Percentage days ‘off’: 34.9 **
Source: CBS/Mark Knoller – President Obama ‘By The Numbers’ here; Bush ‘By The Numbers’ here
But, but, but: what about all the golf President Obama plays?!
Well, if he, say, played Monday to Friday or canceled his State of the Union speech or postponed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks so he could play an extra round, I’d understand the Teapublican OUTRAGE (capital letters are important when you’re talking OUTRAGE).
But…. he plays at weekends and during his vacations. He’s active, fit, healthy – you know, good things. Bush spent most of his time off (over a third of his Presidency) watching sport on TV, sometimes getting so excited he choked on pretzels. I dunno, do Teapublicans believe pretzel-choking on the couch to be a more noble Presidential pursuit?
But, but, but: when Bush was at Camp David he was still working! Presidents are never off duty!
Okay, let’s do a deal – we’ll deduct the Camp David days … for both Presidents.
Deduct the Texas ranch trips too!
But, but, but: what about the cost of President Obama’s trip to Hawaii?!
That once-a-year-trip? Teapublicans? Do you really want to go there? No, no, I don’t mean Hawaii, I mean the cost thing.
NYT: Can you judge a president by what he is reading? As has been reported, President Obama’s vacation reading includes a Lou Cannon biography of Ronald Reagan, another president who was confronted with a divided Congress. But the White House said today Mr. Obama also brought two novels: “The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet” by David Mitchell, a well-reviewed historical romance about a Dutchman in Edo-era Japan; and “Our Kind of Traitor,” by the spy novelist John Le Carre.