© Miri WTPOTUS March 9, 2013
The Sequestration Blues. That’s what Barack Hussein Obama II has got to be singing these days. Things didn’t go quite as planned. Obama hoped to rile up the populace against those evil Republicans; instead, he came off looking petty, petulant, and peeved, not to mention bewitched, bothered, and bewildered.
Falling poll numbers and an increasingly skeptical media (Halleluiah!) required Obama to do an about face and think up a new approach: Courting the sour old farts (sorry, but it’s apt) in the Senate. Charles Krauthammer explained the reasons behind Obama’s sudden and unexpected “charm offensive”:
The only thing that truly changed is that his numbers have gone down from the mid to high 50s into the 40s. And the only thing that’s happened in the real world he tried to exploit the sequester … with predictions of the apocalypse. Then with sort of the petty actions like shutting the tours of the White House. And what happened is Obama’s strongest constituency, which is not the left, it’s the mainstream media, could no longer cover for him without being entirely embarrassed. It had to expose the one exaggeration after another on the sequester.
The Hammer didn’t mention it, but another reason for Obama’s sudden and unexpected dinner party, hosted by Obama for a dozen Republicans, was to distract media attention from Senator Rand Paul’s filibuster of John O. Brennan’s nomination to head the CIA. As Obama’s credibility was falling, Senator Paul’s was rising.
Today the White House was closed for the first time since September 11, 2001. Obama turned a cold shoulder to an appeal by school children, who challenged him via YouTube to open “The People’s House” to them:
The children’s video caught the attention of White House reporters …
“What is your answer, or the president’s answer, to the sixth-graders at St. Paul’s Lutheran School?” one reporter asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
“It is extremely unfortunate that we have a situation like the sequester that compels the kinds of tradeoffs and decisions that this represents,” said Carney.
“It’s unfortunate.” These children, and many others who had planned trips to DC to tour the White House, are being used as pawns in a petty political game being played by Obama and none other than Obama. You think it’s not a game to him? Consider this:
“Make you a deal. Jay Carney, grab a pencil. Let the families take the White House tours next week and I’ll cover the added expenses. The word is it’ll cost around $74,000. If I can get the White House doors open, I will pick up the tab. Mr. Carney, you know this is an offer you can’t refuse. Give me a call.”
… Sean Hannity joined him and offered to pay for a second week of White House tours.
Newt Gingrich added that if Obama cancelled one of his golf outings he could fund the White House tours for 50 weeks.
What did the White House have to say in response to these generous offers?
When another White House spokesman was asked whether private donations might put the tours back on track, he said that step might be unfeasible given the technical requirements of the sequester.
They don’t want solutions. They want symbolic “victories”. They want to inflict pain on school children in their sick political game. Did Obama have to cut out White House tours? No, and he miscalculated. He wrongly assumed that closing the White House would make for bad optics and bad press for the Republicans. Instead, his gambit backfired on himself.
Everyone knows that the sequestration didn’t require closing the White House. Those tours are run by volunteers; some are self-guided. There’s a discrepancy in the figures given for the actual cost of White House tours. One ABC reporter set the cost at $18,000 per week; the White House claims that the cost is $74,000 per week in overtime for the Secret Service. Whatever the actual cost, as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich pointed out:
The president will use up more Secret Service time guarding him while he golfs than it would take to keep the White House tours open all year.
Just this week, Obama rode in a 20-car motorcade, a mere six blocks, to his dinner with the Senate Republicans. Yes, six blocks and twenty cars. How many Secret Service agents? How many chauffeurs? (Were they collecting overtime?) How much gasoline? What was the cost of that motorcade to the taxpayers?
Something tells me that President George W. Bush might have jogged the six blocks to that dinner, had he been the host.
It’s not just the president who wastes our tax dollars. What about Michelle Obama? She gets Secret Service protection, too:
The price tag and draw on Secret Service resources involving promotional campaigns like Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative is less clear.
The Secret Service does not usually reveal how many agents and other resources are assigned to protective missions so it’s not known just how much it cost taxpayers to ferry the first lady to events like her dance routine on Jimmy Fallon’s show — the highlight of a Feb. 22 media blitz in New York — or her Feb. 27-28 visit to Mississippi, Missouri and her hometown of Chicago.
Those trips would all have involved Secret Service details traveling with the first lady, as well as advance work by teams of agents on location.
When asked … if the first lady’s office or schedule would be affected by the sequester, the White House issued a 100-word statement that made no mention of any specific cuts that might affect Michelle Obama’s activities — while making a generic reference to cuts affecting the ‘Executive Office of the President,’ which houses the first lady’s office.
At least one “First Daughter” is not curtailing her activities, either:
It’s also not clear how many Secret Service agents and resources were dedicated to a recent New York visit by 14-year-old Malia Obama, who was spotted in the Big Apple shortly after President Obama signed off on the sequester.
Nor is the White House dog. Yes, whenever Bo Obama must travel–and apparently he must go to the vet or to be groomed or to pick up things at Pet Smart–he also travels in a motorcade. I’m not making this up:
Bo the Obama Dog will keep his motorcade.
The entire $9,000,000 budget for White House tours, according to FOX News, is what it costs to operate Air Force One for only 51 hours. Consider the number of hours that plane was in the air, taking Obama on his never-ending campaign, most recently to enlist the public in his failed attempt to demonize the Republicans over the sequester, which, by the way, was Obama’s idea.
I didn’t check the math in any of these stories, but Forbes reported that it costs $180,000 to fly Air Force One for one hour. Therefore, NOT flying Air Force One for just one hour would fund White House tours for ten weeks, if you accept ABC’s figure of $18,000 per week for the tours.
Let’s not forget those every-Wednesday-evening soirees at the White House, with celebrities and the glitterati. What do they cost taxpayers? Are they still taking place?
One clue about how much they cost We the People (a lot!): The White House spends over $277,000 per year for three calligraphers. Three of them! What do they do? For one thing, they scribe, by hand, fancy invitations to White House events (like those celebrity soirees):
In a day and time when we have the Autopen to sign for the President who would believe there is enough need to have not one, but three calligraphers on staff at the White House. Who knew? It is nice to see that not everything in the White House is high tech.
But that’s not all! That story also informs us that on the White House payroll is at least one “domestic assistant” who makes around $42,000 per year. Doing what? My guess is picking up Barack’s stinky socks:
Ellen DeGeneres also asked the First Lady if President Obama picks up his socks – a question sent in from a viewer via Facebook.
“No, no. He doesn’t pick up his socks. He thinks he’s neat but he has people who help him. I’m like, ‘It’s not you that’s neat. It’s the people who pick up your socks. Those are the neat people,’” she shared.
The day after the sequester struck, Senator Tom Coburn noted that
the government had posted 606 new federal jobs, including one at the Food and Drug Administration for “social media management,” 23 openings related to recreation, four public affairs specialists and a “director of history and museum policies and programs” for the Air Force (salary $143,600 to $165,300).
The USDA, which has warned of furloughs for food inspectors, had posted a job for a librarian. Dr. Coburn also asked that agency whether they might just consider canceling two planned conferences in California and Oregon that were to include “guest chefs” and tastings of “exceptional wines.”
Speaking of chefs, the White House has many. What do they cost us? Apparently, we can’t find out, because the White House didn’t specify those salaries when they released the list. (h/t commenter SnarkEsq. at White House Dossier.)
Let’s close with commentary from Rush Limbaugh:
[W]e can’t keep the White House open for tours, and it’s not playing well for Obama and the media. The media is mad. Here’s ABC. We have Diane Sawyer and Jonathan Karl talking about it. I mean, even Diane Sawyer was a little upset about this …
SAWYER: The White House says they’re forced to shut down White House tours. Little kids are disappointed, and people have been e-mailing us today saying, “Really? Is that the only way to save money?”
Yeah, see, that’s not the way this is supposed to happen. What’s supposed to happen is that little kids are supposed to be running around acting like they did when the Republicans were gonna starve them back in 1995. Back in 1995, when these little kids were gonna be starved to death, they were writing letters to the Republicans, “Dear Mr. Congressman: I can’t study when I’m hungry. I can’t live if I don’t have food. I don’t want to die. Please don’t starve me. Please don’t cut the school lunch budget.” Little kids writing letters to that effect.
Now, what they’re supposed to have been doing here is writing letters to Republicans blaming them for shutting down the White House tours, but they’re not, they’re blaming Obama. That’s not how it’s supposed to go. Democrats are worried.
Here’s Jonathan Karl …
KARL: For tourists visiting the nation’s capital today, the decision to close the White House has hit with a thud. What do you guys make of this decision for the White House to say that they’re going to cut White House tours?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Basically, it is just bull… [bleeped].
KARL: We talked via Skype to a 6th grade class from Waverly, Iowa, just told their White House tour next week has been canceled. How big a deal is it to be able to go to the White House?
KAREN THALACKER: It’s very important. They’ll remember it for the rest of their lives.
KARL: Now they’ve launched a Facebook campaign to get the White House reopened. The message…
WAVERLY, IOWA, SCHOOL CHILDREN: The White House is our house! Please let us visit!
KARL: We ran into the Speaker of the House. The President says he has to cancel the tours because of the budget cuts.
JOHN BOEHNER: We’re open and Americans are welcome.
So now Obama’s singing “The Sequestration Blues”. Ya gotta luv it!