CNN and ABC News have run clips of Mitt stating that he and Ann have enjoyed vacations in France:
This clip of course gave lefties increased evidence for the “Mitt is Rich” meme that is a huge component of their strategy for how to get President Obama re-elected. The entirely predictable reactions at Daily Kos and Huffington Post prompted AllahPundit at HotAir.com to write:
Alternate headline: “Confirmed: He’s a RINO.”
No, I kid. Romney’s fondness for France is, I think, already common knowledge among righty activists thanks to Newt running one of the dumbest attack ads of the primaries against him back in January. It’s not purely academic either: He spent two and a half years there in his early 20s on his LDS mission and evidently liked it enough that he’s willing to give this answer even now, despite the fact that “French” has always been a byword for elitism in some parts of America. Kind of nice to see him being unabashedly honest, the political consequences be damned.
This is extremely irritating on more levels than I can count. Easiest to comment on is the the lefties’ reaction, which of course is to be expected on their part. Given that Mitt has criticized their guy, President Obama, for taking “elaborate vacations,” they no doubt felt duty-bound to comment.
The next source of irritation is the fact that AllahPundit and others at HotAir.com have dissed Mitt from the beginning of this election cycle. This was illustrated by his comment back in January regarding the fact that Mitt speaks French, “What does it prove? That Romney’s an elitist phony? Good news — the base already knows.”
My final comment is from the quote I provided above, “Kind of nice to see him being unabashedly honest, the political consequences be damne,.” as well as this quote that came later, “If Romney had to run in an age of “freedom fries,” would he have given this same answer?” The implication we get from those is that Mitt is not typically honest in what he says, which I find offensive. AllahPundit’s snark would be much more tolerable had he simply pointed out that Mitt paid for his vacations and the taxpayers pay for the Obama’s.
Even better would have been for him to point that in the 1990’s Mitt took a symbolic salary of $1 to return to Bain Consulting from Bain Capital to extricate his old firm from the mess they had gotten themselves into. Furthermore, the same Wikipedia reports that “Romney and his wife contributed $1 million to the Olympics, and he donated to charity the $1.4 million in salary and severance payments he received for his three years as president and CEO.” Again from Wikipedia, “Romney did not accept a salary while he was Governor and that he paid for his personal and political travel.”
With a president who continues to spend exorbitant amounts of taxpayer dollars not only to go on vacation but also to delivery campaign speeches, this seems like a silly discussion to be having, but it is impossible to walk away at this point. As reported by the New York Times:
Mixing policy and politics, Mr. Obama is picking up the pace of his travel with that ultimate incumbent’s perk — unlimited use of Air Force One. The trips are mostly to about a dozen swing states that will decide the election and to two reliably Democratic states, New York and California, for campaign money.
And Mr. Obama is not the only frequent flier with a re-election agenda. Both Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the first lady, Michelle Obama, are increasingly stumping around the country as the campaign seeks to repeat its fund-raising success of 2008 and counter a building wave of G.O.P. cash.
The trips yield a payoff not only in donations — collected at small-crowd, big-dollar events in the sumptuous homes of donors and at small-dollar, big-crowd rallies — but also in local headlines trumpeting Mr. Obama’s message of the day. Taken together, they raise the quadrennial question of how much of a president’s travel should be paid for by taxpayers and how much by his party.
“It’s very opaque,” said Meredith McGehee, policy director of the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan group. “You’re kind of left in the position of, ‘Trust us; we’re doing it right.’”
Opaque? At $179K per operating hour for Air Force One, it seems pretty clear to me that the left might want to go where this seems to be heading