While Obama preaches sacrifice, his family frolics in Spain


PETER NICHOLAS AND KATHERINE SKIBA, WASHINGTON
The Sydney Morning Herald
August 8, 2010

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As the US economy endures high unemployment and a jittery stock market, President Barack Obama has preached sacrifice and fiscal discipline. But the pictures coming out of a sun-splashed Spanish resort may be sending a different message.

First lady Michelle Obama is in the midst of a five-day trip to a luxury resort along with a handful of friends, her younger daughter, aides and Secret Service. Her office said the Obamas would pay for personal expenses, but would not reveal the taxpayer cost for the government employees.

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Elected officials – Democrats and Republicans – were reluctant to weigh in, not wanting to appear critical of the President’s wife. But the trip provided fodder for television news shows, talk-show hosts and bloggers. Critics portrayed the foreign getaway as tone-deaf to the deep economic anxiety back home. Every first family takes vacations: the criticism aimed at Mrs Obama is that she chose to visit a foreign country rather than remain in the US and support its fragile economy.

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