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Michelle's Spain trip draws ire

Peter Baker, Washington, August 7, The New York Times:

A quiet holiday in a lavish Mediterranean retreat for the first lady and her daughter has turned into a bit of a headache for a White House trying to battle bad economic news at home.

Holiday headache: Michelle Obama waves during a visit to Ronda in Spain on Saturday. AP

Holiday headache: Michelle Obama waves during a visit to Ronda in Spain on Saturday. APMichelle Obama took her younger daughter, Sasha, to southern Spain this week for a mother-daughter getaway. But when you are married to the president, it has a way of becoming a mother-daughter-Secret-Service getaway that invariably sweeps into town, takes over much of a pricey hotel and leaves the taxpayers with a hefty bill.

The first lady is paying for her own room, food and transportation, and the friends she brought will pay for theirs as well. But the government picks up security costs, and the image of the president’s wife enjoying a fancy vacation at a luxury resort abroad while Americans lose their jobs back home struck some as ill-timed. European papers are having a field day tracking her entourage and the blogosphere has been buzzing.

“It’s always very difficult to lead a private life when you’re a public person,” said Anita McBride, who was Laura Bush’s chief of staff. “No one would deny any of our hard-working public officials an opportunity for a vacation. Everybody needs that. But I think the more expensive or lavish a trip might be perceived, the more criticism you invite. It comes with the territory of being a public person.”


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