Monday, December 14, 2009

A Presidential Slap in the Face

In recent months I have become more involved in the happenings of federal government than usual. There are a few reasons for this change:
  1. For the past few months (though they've felt like years), I have been working on a government textbook. I have come to understand so many interesting and useless bits of information about government. I might actually know more than I'd ever care to know.
  2. I am supremely interested in the health care debates, as I am someone who is ever dependent on my health insurance. Probably much more so than most people my age.
  3. And during mental breaks at work, I seem to find my way to the New York Times website.
Keeping up to date on political issues can be addicting and exhausting all at the same time.

So last night as my darling and I sat down to relax and watch the tube, you can image how intrigued I was to discover that the Oprah "Christmas at the Whitehouse" Special was being aired.

Oprah's tour/interview began in the oval office where president Obama presented his Christmas tree and shared thoughts on what he enjoys most about living in the Whitehouse, "The people's house," as he called it. (It's hardly the people's house, as few people get to enjoy it much more than during a quick tour.)

Next, Oprah met up with the First Lady, who was all but bedazzled. She wore giant diamond earrings and a large, pearl necklace that gathered to a diamond pendant. She did look lovely, but I couldn't get past her flashy accessories. She took Oprah on a tour of the Whitehouse to show her the many, many Christmas trees, garlands, and other LAVISH decorations. Now, don't get me wrong. I know it's tradition to decorate the Whitehouse in a beautiful fashion. But during a time of such economic crisis, don't you wonder if having personal decorators work on the place for FIVE straight days is a little less than necessary?!

I'm not naive enough to think that if the First Family took all the money that would have been used in decorating the Whitehouse and applied it to the federal deficit, that it would make any difference. BUT at a time like this, how can the First Family sleep at night knowing that our whole nation is suffering financially, many people are without jobs, homes, food, and other means of survival, yet they have DOZENS of Christmas trees, personal decorators, and a HUGE gingerbread Whitehouse created by any number of personal chefs?

As the interview went on, Barack and Michelle bantered about the cost and flashy-ness of Michelle's jewelry and her taste for fine things. When asked what would be different at the Whitehouse this year during Christmas season, Michelle responded, "We'll be having more parties." Then she went on to describe the 50,000 some odd guest list.

I am floored. And a little bit angry. During a time of financial crisis, when our national unemployment rate is at 10%, our government is participating in RECORD spending (which we will pay for), we're financing a decade-long war, and the average American is going without, the "most powerful" family in the world is flaunting their lavish life style in the faces of Americans. How do you think that makes us feel? The local food bank estimated that they would be empty by the end of the month. A national food drive campaign was organized to help the needy. Friends and family members are doing more this year for needy families than ever before... and the whitehouse is hosting more parties.

Shame on you.

During an opportunity to inspire the American public with a heart-warming Christmas message and examples of ways to give back to the country, the First Family failed. How different would our nation be if instead of seeing clips of bragging about gift-giving, and efforts to make the Whitehouse transformed into an elaborate Christmas village, clips were shown about things the First Family was doing to give back, ways they're simplifying their lifestyle during this time, or commitments they're making to help more people? Lead by example. The impact that the "most powerful" family could have had by doing something selfless and humble, something centered around integrity, during that special is immeasurable. Think of the trend that could be set by Obama to his many loyal followers if he chose to keep things simple this year. To save some money, give back, cancel hosting a party that will cost the people millions of dollars.

I guess the old adage applies to financial problems, too. "Out of sight, out of mind." Well, Obamas, I hope you have a great holiday living high on the hog this year, while us average Americans work our butts off to pay off the debt that you will leave us with for years to come. Happy holidays to you too.


valerie said...

Touche, Megs. Very well said.

Hollie said...

I think you should print this up, Christmas card style, and send it to Pennsylvania Avenue. Really.

Alisha said...

I couldn't have said it better. Our government is a joke.

Brandon said...

Congratulations Megan. Soon you'll be a ball of hate, just like me. You've come a long way since that one night we spent talking politics at that awesome party. If you weren't married you could have nerd politics conversations at parties with me and Collin. Oh shucks!!!

As for your posts, I think you're right. This sort of lavishness sends all the wrong messages.

Marcie said...

I'm just glad you have the GUTS to say what many of us are thinking.