When she gets back from her tour of Spain costing taxpayers $75,000/Day the FLOTUS, Michelle Obama will be put to work campaigning in districts where her husband will hurt rather than help. According to Politico, all signs say the White House will likely deploy Obama to help Dems keep the majority in both chambers.
It’s quite a reversal from the heated 2008 campaign, when Michelle — accused of using a terrorist gesture to fist-bump her husband and famously quoted as saying the campaign made her a proud American “for the first time in my adult life” — was almost politically toxic.
“There’s just something about the first lady that defies party politics,” said pollster John Anzalone. “You can dislike George Bush, but love Laura. You can disagree with Barack Obama’s policies and like Michelle’s work on childhood obesity.”
This may an indication of how far Obama has fallen in public opinion. This was to be the Recovery summer
when the expected gains in jobs and economic strength resulting from Obama’s stimulus turned around the public’s perception of the porkulus plan. Well, better luck next summer.
Michelle is “still a reminder of what people liked about President Obama,” added Princeton University professor Julian Zelizer. Unlike her husband, the first lady “can retain some of the image and the excitement from the campaign because you’re not pushing policy, you’re not angering members of Congress.”
To date, the first lady has kept politics at arm’s length, although she headlined a Democratic National Committee women’s leadership event in April that raised more than $1 million. But over the summer she returned her focus on ending childhood obesity, her signature issue.
The problem is that the public perception of Michelle may have been destroyed by her jaunt to Spain which has earned her the nickname Michelle Antionette. In an Op-Ed on Thursday, New York Daily News writer Andrea Tantaros compared Michelle Obama to a “modern day Marie Antoinette” for taking such a costly vacation when so much of the country is suffering to make ends meet. It doesn’t help that Michelle, Sasha and their entourage is staying at the Hotel Villa Padierna, a Ritz-Carlton hotel who’s cheapest room is $500 a night.
When challenged about the trip by a reporter, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that the Obamas will pay for their own personal expenses, as will their friends who are traveling with them. Gibbs did not mention that the public is paying for the full-time Secret Service and her staff at a rate of approximately $75,000/day.
Lynn Sweet, of the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote
“First ladies wield a tremendous amount of influence behind the scenes and they’re the perception of the administration. At a time when we’re seeing 9.6 percent unemployment, 70,000 jobs lost this month, people are losing their homes, and it doesn’t convey that she senses the plight of working families. This is more of a narrative that many of his critics push that they’re an elitist administration, thumbing their nose at working families.”
The White House may have to change strategies, because its planned weapon may have been shot in the foot by its elitist attitude.