Michelle and Sasha Obama are apparently staying at the Hotel Villa Padierna in Marbella, Spain — and Andrea Tantaros of the New York Daily News says, "reports are calling the lodgings of Obama's Spanish fiesta, the Hotel Villa Padierna in Marbella, 'luxurious,' 'posh' and 'a millionaires' playground.'" It's unclear where these reports are from, but Tantaros also alleges that the rooms cost an "estimated" $2,500 a night, and that "transporting and housing the estimated 70 Secret Service agents who will flank the material girl will cost the taxpayers a pretty penny." She says the Obamas "seem to fancy themselves more along the lines of international celebrities than actual leaders," and that "Michelle Obama seems more like a modern-day Marie Antoinette" than a down-to-earth leader. She argues,
The Obama modus operandi is becoming clear. From lavish trips to Spain to reportedly flying Bo, the President's Portuguese water dog, on a separate aircraft to vacation with them in Maine, to a date night in New York City that perhaps cost nearly $100,000, their idea of austerity is really just the lap of luxury, at least for ordinary folks.
Those Obamas, spending taxpayer money flying their elitist foreign dog back and forth instead of tending to America! Except that the claim that Bo got his own jet to Maine (advanced by conservative bloggers like Michelle Malkin) is false. PolitiFact finds that Bo did ride on a "separate plane" from Obama — along with the staffers and aides who always travel with the President. Not only did the dog not get his own plane, he didn't even get his own seat.
The White House also disputes Tantaros's claims about MObama's Spanish jaunt. Katherine Skiba of the LA Times Top of the Ticket blog writes,
[O]ne White House official said Obama had a "small" group of friends and "minimal" staff on the trip, and said personal expenses, such as hotel rooms and meals, were being paid for by the Obamas.
"Any additional footprint, including rooms needed for security support and transportation, falls under the same rules as have applied to any previous first family travel," the official said. That is, private expenses are paid for privately and government expenses are picked up by Uncle Sam.
All this may not sway Tantaros much, however, as it's clear who she wants the Obamas to emulate:
For a couple that has sharply criticized former President George W. Bush so widely, they could stand to follow his example for once and select a more low-key locale, as Bush regularly did in his Texas vacations.
"Regularly" is right — in 2008, Bush set a record for most vacation days taken during a Presidential term. On July 17, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Obama had taken 65 days off — Bush, by the same point in his term, had taken 120. And Obama didn't go with Michelle and Sasha to Spain — because he's working.
Michelle Obama Can't Escape Critics On Vacation [CBS]
Blogger Rains On Michelle Obama's Trip To Spain [LA Times Top of the Ticket Blog]
Material Girl Michelle Obama Is A Modern-Day Marie Antoinette On A Glitzy Spanish Vacation [NY Daily News]