What’s Spanish for “Best Western?”

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I can’t remember a single detail from a single trip taken by former First Lady Laura Bush. After the Lady Macbeth of Little Rock (and Chicago and Chappaqua) served two terms as co-President, the fact that nothing comes to mind is a bit of a relief.

Hey, at least Mrs. Bush never tried to put the nation’s lawyers in charge of the nation’s doctors.

The smart money says that following her junket to Spain, Michelle Obama will figure out the virtues of the Laura Bush school of smiling and nodding at state dinners. Mrs. Obama’s Iberian itinerary went well beyond the usual foreign photo-op and turned into a budget-busting romp that has ojos rolling from here to eternidad.

At a time when more than one in 10 Americans are one step away from wearing sandwich boards declaring: “Will flamenco for food,” Mrs. Obama’s six-figure trip has engendered entirely reasonable discussions about just how out of touch the Democrat ruling elite has become.

To be fair to Madam Michelle, she does seem to be comfortable serving in a ceremonial role best suited for someone who ascended to the people’s crib by virtue of being married to the right guy at the right time. Such acceptance means a continuation of the blessedly unremarkable First Lady-dom of Mrs. Bush, and an abandonment of the damnably noteworthy First Strong Woman-dom of the erstwhile co-president and current Secretary of “Not Running in 2012—Honest!”

Lest you think I’m descending into some “everything the Obamas do = bad” monologue, let me point out that First Ladies have done their fair share of globetrotting in support of their spouses. But there’s a marked difference between kindly women smiling at foreign toddlers—and kicking back with 40 or so pals at the five-star Hotel Villa Padierna in Marbella (a Ritz-Carlton Resort®), where the rooms run from $500 to $2,000 a night—if for no other reason, the aforementioned urchins are rarely allowed into such lavish locales unless they’re shining shoes.

We have all seen the news reports of the taxpayer-footed tally for the First Family’s Spanish sojourn (minus the President, he was dining with Oprah Winfrey—positively pedestrian by comparison). Contrary to rumor, Mrs. Obama and her entourage ARE paying their personal expenses at their opulent accommodations. But the images of the First Lady, close to four dozen friends and relatives and the required retinue of security and support staff enjoying the high life while the President endeavors to prevail upon American taxpayers to tighten their trusses is one of the great moments in liberal glibness. (Gliberals—get it?)

So, while it might be unfair to criticize Mrs. Obama and her pals for heading out for some high living, it is absolutely fair to point out that the Democrat ruling elite, with Barack Obama at the head of the table, are dining like King Louis XVI and Marie Antionette while the rest of us are consigned to beg at the Bastille’s back door.

Sadly, every aspect of this public relations disaster was preventable.

For starters, perhaps a hollow apology for calling Spaniards bigots immediately before the Obama entourage arrived was less than smart. Next time, open with: “Buenos Dias,” instead of: “Sorry about that whole ‘Spain is racist’ thing. Here’s Michelle!”

A crowd that large is not doing anyone any favors. Consider a group about the size of a jazz combo, not the New York Philharmonic. The pictures coming back from Majorca look like rehearsal sessions for Michael Jackson’s Thriller tour.

Seriously, the “Villa del Mucho Dinero” is undoubtedly fabulous, but it’s in… um… Spain. (For victims of teachers’ unions—that’s a whole other country. Think Mexico, except the Spaniards still live in Spain, not East L.A.) Madame First Lady, while your husband and his fellow Democrat elitists are firing torpedoes at the nation’s economy, how’s about you try a Hampton Inn near Six Flags next time?

While I suppose that we unwashed non-liberal heathens can take solace in the fact that Mrs. Obama didn’t offer up one of her “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country” non-sequiturs, many of us are starting to notice an Orwellian subtext to the liberal elite’s societal disconnect. We’re outside, looking through the dining room windows at the Hotel Villa Padierna in Marbella, trying to figure out who the real pigs are.

Ben Crystal

is a 1993 graduate of Davidson College and has burned the better part of the last two decades getting over the damage done by modern-day higher education. He now lives in Savannah, Ga., where he has hosted an award-winning radio talk show and been featured as a political analyst for television. Currently a principal at Saltymoss Productions—a media company specializing in concept television and campaign production, speechwriting and media strategy—Ben has written numerous articles on the subjects of municipal authoritarianism, the economic fallacy of sin taxes and analyses of congressional abuses of power.

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