Not everyone’s going to be happy to see the first black first family tossing the Frisbee around next week. In the last month, the president’s critics, particularly on the right, have, in their customarily hypocritical, player-hating fashion, been holding him to a higher standard than past presidents: No other president would be expected to cheerfully put up with armed dissenters at their events. No other president would be expected to turn over a birth certificate—after he had already turned over a birth certificate. No other president would be denied a little R&R after six grueling months. But the vacation backlash is already starting.
Earlier this week, I suggested that Obama might want to consider a “staycation,” because: "…Bush vacationed more than he worked, but he was a legacy hire and a trust-fund baby, and everyone understood he was just being himself. Obama won’t get the same leeway when he hits The Vineyard with his Amazon Kindle. By the time you can say, “chill, mark,” the far right will have tagged the president as a Chablis-sipping nobleman living it up on Joe Six Pack’s dime." Sure enough, here comes “Conservatives for Patients’ Rights” with the first shot across the bow:
So, after two years of campaigning, six months on the job, and four town halls in the last week alone, Obama can’t take the kids to the beach before school starts? Do they not remember this?:
When Obama’s on vacation next week, look for progressives—who should be happy that black people can attain the “good life” like anyone else—to be unhappy that he’s taken his foot off the gas on health care reform. Conservatives, who should be happy that he’s taken his foot off the gas on health care reform for a few days, will find a way to raise hell because they can’t reconcile the images of the first black first family living lavish on The Vineyard with Secret Service in tow.
Perhaps more disturbing, though, is that no one in the White House seems to have anticipated this, because there was an opportunity to turn this situation to Obama’s advantage. He could have pulled a Don Draper, sent the wife and kids to the beach, ordered some takeout, spent the weekend huddled with his team in the Oval, and thrown the old George W. “We’re workin’ hard” routine on folks. Then they could have played the shame card with Congressmen and Senators spending August back home in their districts while health care goes unlegislated. The Obama team is used to generating cozy photo ops that help the president’s regular guy image, but this time around won’t be one of them. It's going to look great to those who are already admire the first family. The "swing" (read: working-class white) voters that they need to reach/hang onto won't be impressed. It’s too bad that there’s a double standard, but there is. Mr. President, it’s not too late for a “staycation.”
David Swerdlick is an associate editor at The Root. Follow him on Twitter.