The problem with Michelle Obama’s Marabella-to-Martha’s-Vineyard August is not that the first family doesn’t deserve time off but that Michelle, in the past, has gone on the record that the country’s elite (of which she claimed not to be a part) had created one nation for themselves and quite a different for most others — at least that’s how I interpreted “downright mean country,” “raise the bar,” and never having been proud of her country until the rise of hope and change.
So the Versailles-like aura around her trips suggests that her prior angst arose not because millions were not able to share the lifestyles of the elite but that she herself had not yet quite partaken in the sort of life she felt she deserved — which she is now apparently enjoying to the fullest. The fact that her Costa del Sol trip coincides with hard times back in the states, comes on the heels of the Kerry yacht and the Clinton wedding, and clashes with her husband’s anti-wealthy rhetoric (e.g., “at some point you’ve made enough money”) makes it all the more weird, both for her adminstration’s equality-of-result politics and for the larger liberal narrative of talking truth to power.
Of course, all this puts a terrible burden on a sycophantic media with a long tradition of trashing the slightest hint of aristocratic enjoyment on the part of first ladies (e.g., Nancy Reagan’s china). So, just as golf, around winter 2009, ceased to be an aristocratic distraction from the nation’s pressing problems, so too luxury on the Mediterranean must be a sort of federal employee’s deserved state vacation.