Well, there are quite a few somethings, really. There’s no doubt that there are many who see Obama as a savior-like figure who will deliver him or her from whatever perceived injustice “victimizes” him or her. However misplaced that perception may be (that’s the subject for another blog), there is a lesson the president could learn from the Vicar of Christ regarding humility, and frugality.
Recently, it has been reported that Pope Francis has made a decision to stay at the Saint Martha (Vatican workers’) residence, rather than at the papal apartment in the Apostolic Residence. Initially, the Pope was staying at Saint Martha’s due to renovations to the Residence, in addition to the fact that the Cardinal Electors were staying there during the conclave.
However, now that the renovations have been complete, and the Cardinals have moved out, the Pope has decided to stay at Casa Santa Marta for the forseeable future. Not that this is any shock. While Archbishop of Buenos Aires, the pope declined to stay at the Archbishops residence, and instead kept a small apartment and cooked for himself. He even relied on public transportation rather than having a limo and driver. While at the workers’ residence, the pope has already invited street sweepers, gardeners, and the Vatican staff to join him in his daily Mass.
This picture presents a vast contrast with President Obama over the last few months, and especially since the Fiscal Cliff, and sequestration were going to end the world. In that time, the Obamas have taken three vacations (four if you count the fact that one was “separate vacations” with Michelle and the girls skiing while Barack flew to Florida for some golf with Tiger Woods). Now of course, the president needs to take some time off, I’m not denying that; the presidency is probably the most stressful job in the world (just look at the before and after photos of the presidents), but these aren’t the George W. Bush/Ronald Reagan types of vacations where the president flies back home and clears some brush of his ranch. No, these are the full luxury, exotic and expensive type of vacations that cost the taxpayers lots of money.
As a run-down, the Obamas began the year in Hawaii for nine days and five rounds of golf; then over Washington’s Birthday, Michelle and the girls flew to Aspen for a ski trip, while the Duffer-in-Chief flew to Miami for more golf (and pointers) from Tiger Woods. Now, we hear that the Obama girls are in the Bahamas for a spring break vacation. I’m not going to speculate on the actual cost of these three vacations, but it’s not cheap to fire up Air Force One to jaunt over to Hawaii or even Florida. Then there is the cost of accommodations (say, didn’t VP Biden just spent $585,000 for one night in Paris?) and security. To put things in perspective, it cost $80,000 alone for police and Secret Service protection just for Obama’s golf weekend. One might have thought that Obama might have realized that the $80,000 expenditure alone would look bad in light of the decision to stop White House tours for a savings of $74,000 a week from the same Secret Service budget; but hey, as long as he gets to take those savings to exploit all the perks and trapping of his office, right?
Again, contrast this behavior with that of the Pope, who has eschewn all of the perks and trappings of his “office” to remain closer to “the people” in order to help spread the ministry of Christ. Perhaps if Obama had thought it necessary to get “closer to the people”, instead of flying down to Miami for some golf, he could have invited Tiger Woods up to D.C. for a weekend stay at the White House (not like Woods can’t afford it), and a few rounds of golf at one of the many nearby courses, perhaps even the “same golf course Obama and Republican Speaker John Boehner played on in 2011.” Nah, who am I kidding? It’s much more fun to go jet-setting across the country on the taxpayers’ dime all the while complaining about budget cuts that he passes along to the citizens anyway (such as no Easter Egg Roll- wait can I say Easter?– in addition to no tours). It must be good to be the king…