It's a Tony Hayward world out there, and the soon-to-be-ex-BP CEO's monumental solipsism and tone deafness obviously is catching.
The Obama clan has it now, probably transmitted from Mr. Let 'Em Eat Oil to the president when he "kicked" Hayward's ass at that White House confab a while back. And then Barack gave it to Michelle who, while eschewing yachting after killing the Gulf of Mexico, did settle on a high-dollar Spanish fiesta while the American economy burns, the Gulf states smother and the ordinary Joe languishes.
OF COURSE, robber barons and the diffident rich always have behaved so, even throughout American history. But when the First Family starts behaving like Marie Antoinette amid hard times, widespread austerity and spreading decay, you just may find you've become a banana republic.
And even the Australians, a world away, are noticing. Look at this in The Age from Sydney:
As the U.S. economy endures high unemployment and a jittery stock market, President Barack Obama has preached sacrifice and fiscal discipline. But the pictures coming out of a sun-splashed Spanish resort may be sending a different message.AT LEAST in Vegas, there's the slimmest of chances you might hit it big, though. When you're dealing with Washington, politics and the public's bankroll, not so much.
First lady Michelle Obama is in the midst of a five-day trip to a luxury resort along with a handful of friends, her younger daughter, aides and Secret Service. Her office said the Obamas would pay for personal expenses, but would not reveal the taxpayer cost for the government employees.
Elected officials -- Democrats and Republicans -- were reluctant to weigh in, not wanting to appear critical of the President's wife. But the trip provided fodder for television news shows, talk-show hosts and bloggers. Critics portrayed the foreign getaway as tone-deaf to the deep economic anxiety back home. Every first family takes vacations: the criticism aimed at Mrs Obama is that she chose to visit a foreign country rather than remain in the US and support its fragile economy.
Just last month, Mrs Obama flew to the Florida panhandle, a tourist draw hit hard by the oil spill crisis, and delivered the message that for parents "looking for things to do with their kids this summer … this is a wonderful place to visit."
The opulence of the European trip also has drawn scrutiny. Mr Obama has urged frugality in lean economic times. He once cautioned that families saving money for college shouldn't "blow a bunch of cash in Vegas."
Because while money still talks (in this case, en Español), Obama's bullshit has just taken a walk.