It is interesting, instructive, and a little disheartening to notice that the foreign press is much more shocked than the U.S. press is by the arrogance and expense of the Obama's "date night" that cost the taxpayers nearly one million dollars last week. The Australian and British press, for instance, scoffed at the absurd cost of the one night visit to New York that Obama "sacrificed" for but the U.S. press didn't seem to mind the waste of the taxpayers money nearly as much.
Let's start with the fawning U.S. press coverage. Us magazine, for instance, gave us the happy talk of "Obamas enjoy date night in NYC," in which we are told all about the happy patrons that got to dine in the same restaurant as the Obamas who were there just like reg'lar folks... except that all the other reg'lar folks had to be patted down like criminals by the Secret Service, of course -- not that Us really noticed that much.
The oh, so journalistically serious Chris Matthews also talked of the "date night" phenomenon. Did he scold the White House for the incredible waste of money? No, Matthews attacked the GOP for scoffing at the arrogant and wasteful spending. Now THERE is some serious journalism, eh? (Also covered by Geoff Dickens)
The Arts section of the L.A. Times scoffed at the "petty politics" of the complainers against Obama's arrogant use of privilige. The New York Times gushed that the Obama's choice of restaurants "does, though, show taste." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel called the waste of money "commendable." The Washington Post celebrated the fact that the president was a "foodie." Huffintgon Post gushed over the visit with a slideshow of AP photos.
I won't bother with the unhinged at the lefty blogs, but here was an interesting one: Indulging their inner environmental hypocrite, a website called thedailygreen.com, a site that claims to be interested in the environment, didn't seem to worry much about all the jet flights and global warming contributions that "date night" caused. Thedailygreen said that "nobody minds" the expense and was all excited about people meeting the "celebrity" president despite all the purported environmental destruction his visit caused.
Amusingly, the AP posted a story that sported a headline about how Republicans were slamming the Obamas' "date night," but it spent 10 of the 12 paragraphs talking about what the Obamas did and how they enjoyed themselves instead of discussing the GOP's complaints. Similarly, U.S. News was grumbling that the GOP had the nerve to grumble about the expense.
Of course, there were some voices raising concern about the over-the-top night out. Believe it or not, the Perky One, Katie Couric, advised the president that such an extravagant date was not the best idea in these hard times. On her blog, Couric said that the tough economy, "might be a good reason to keep that next date...a little closer to home. "
So, what did the foreign press make of the Obama's extravagant "date night"? They seemed a tad less celebratory over the whole affair.
A headline in The Australian (republishing a Times story) scoffs that "Taxpayers foot bill for Barack and Michelle Obama's cosy date." The Mirror in England was shocked over "Michelle Obama's $1m date in New York." The Telegraph talked of the criticism of the night out. The Times Online pointed out that Obama snubbed diplomats from the Czech Republic to take Michelle on his little date night. The Independent also had a nice jab at the Obamas for their presumption. And the Mail sniped at the president over the price tag, too. "How Obamas' romantic £120 trip to Broadway racked up a £45,000 bill," its headline pointedly remarked.
Even the Obama loving BBC noted in the second sentence that some were criticizing the Obamas for the "insensitive and wasteful" spending which puts the criticism much higher in the story than any of the American press where it usually appeared at the tail of the story if at all. AFP followed the BBC model by putting the Republican complaint in the top half of its story, unlike the U.S. media for the most part did.
So, it appears that foreign press was much harder on the Obamas extravagance than the U.S. press was in many cases. Sadly, it is telling that the U.S. press seemed to so easily let the Obamas slide for their arrogance.
(Photo Credit: Copyright 2008 Stan Honda / Getty Images from Insider.com)