I have read much commentary on the pie-in-the-sky arrogance of Barack Obama as he hightails it to Israel, Jordan, Britain, France and Germany in a much-publicized, much-anticipated and headline-stealing foreign tour of the world. People on the right (and some on the left) have criticized Obama for putting on airs, for acting like a president when he clearly is not, and of course, for seeming to have a greatly overinflated sense of self.
These mild criticisms may be well-placed. After all, Obama has given a podium speech behind a faux-presidential Obama seal, he tried originally to make a speech at the Brandenburg Gate (a move the Germans did not take well to), and he has on more than one occasion defended his “apolitical” tour of Europe by claiming that presidents do it all the time (to which a reporter abroad recently replied, reminding him that he is not the president yet).
All of the criticisms have been of Obama from a political perspective, and they have come from already entrenched political opponents of the Democratic candidate. But as a donor to the Obama campaign, I have one very important question: Why are you spending my money on hummus and currywurst?
I have not donated much to the campaign. But when I donated, I was giving money to help out a candidate who I wanted to become president. I hoped that my money would pay for advertisements, campaign expenses such as offices and staff, and literature that would help my candidate be elected. My donation, like that of over a million people, was given to a Democratic candidate in hope of improving his chances of being elected in America.
But now I find out that the campaign has sent its candidate into the Middle East and Europe for a high-profile tour, and I’m wondering, who’s paying for this? Who’s paying for the mileage Obama is putting on his private jet? Who’s paying for the gas for the motorcade of 20 vehicles Obama apparently used in Jordan? Who’s paying for catering costs and hotel bills for the 40 embedded journalists, and dozens of advisers and aides? Who’s paying for flyers advertising his arrival, and his upcoming speech in Berlin? Who’s paying for security, production costs, public speaking fees, city permits and cleaning up Berlin’s tiergarten?
And furthermore, of the five countries on this trip, two of them use the Euro and one of them uses the Pound. These are the most expensive currencies to buy with the dollar, and however much the campaign spends, it’s multiplied by a pretty hefty number. All of a sudden, my measly donation will probably buy a lunch for Obama and one foreign policy adviser, one afternoon in a charming café on le Rive Gauche in Paris.
I don’t know who supplements these lavish trips abroad entirely. As a United States Senator traveling abroad, is Obama entitled to some government assistance? Certainly the secret service is paid by our tax dollars, but I wonder just how much of this trip is supplemented by Obama for America. My guess is, quite a bit of it, enough of it to be an outrage.
The ironic thing is, when Americans find out their tax dollars are being spent on “pork barrel projects,” they are outraged (and McCain tries to squeeze their outrage for political gain). But for some reason, contributers to the Obama campaign aren’t becoming outraged at the lavish spending of their donation money in a foreign country. I don’t know why that is the case. But I, personally, am going to think twice before putting more of my pennies into the Obama piggy bank. After all, I don’t want that piggy bank to turn to pork.