by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Victor Davis Hanson‘s latest column at National Review Online suggests that distaste for President Obama’s economic policies has started to grow into opposition to the president himself. Hanson seeks a reason for the change.
The president’s latest Martha’s Vineyard vacation was a public-relations disaster, wholly unnecessary, and in part responsible for Obama’s most recent slide in the polls. Part of the problem was purely coincidental and no one’s fault: Who could have expected that while the president of the United States was resting on an exclusive private beach on a tony island on a calm August day, millions of Eastern Seaboarders around him would be engaged in a media-driven frenzy of emergency preparation and evacuation?
Yet most of the negative perception was the president’s own doing. For nearly three years, there has been something strange about the First Family’s ritzy getaway tastes. The annual Martha’s Vineyard rentals were bookended by First Family junkets to Vail, Costa del Sol, and Hawaii. The choice of venues spawned at least three problems for the president that have nothing to do with the First Family’s right, and indeed duty, to enjoy a little well-earned vacation time — or with the fact that other presidents have vacationed in nice places.
First, Obama’s fiery rhetoric (“fat-cat bankers,” “corporate jets,” “millionaires and billionaires,” “redistributive change,” “at a certain point you’ve made enough money,” etc.) has demonized the better off. Many successful liberal presidents do that, but they finesse the necessary fundraising and schmoozing with Wall Street zillionaires with tact and discretion. Bill Clinton was a past master at gluing a populist veneer atop his deep fascination with old money and hip celebrity. The Obamas are far clumsier in both their class-warfare boilerplate and their overt elite tastes, whose contradictions they apparently either miss or don’t much care about.