Yeah, a better progressive would just ignore the whole ginned-up nontroversy, but here’s some ammunition to use against
MoDo your Drudge-besotted email-forwarding relatives concerning Michelle Obama’s trip to Spain:
Mrs. Obama met two friends in Spain, who flew there on their own. The three women were joined by a total of four daughters. (Some news outlets reported Mrs. Obama was on vacation with 40 friends; that was not true.)
One of the women is a longtime Obama friend, Anita Blanchard, an obstetrician who delivered Sasha and big sister Malia, 12. Her husband is Marty Nesbitt, a close Obama friend and treasurer of Obama’s presidential campaign fund.
A White House source told me the Mrs. Obama was not able to attend the funeral for Blanchard’s father at the beginning of July. Blanchard, who was taking her daughter on a promised trip to Spain, asked the first lady and Sasha to come to Spain with her. (Malia is at overnight camp.) “She felt it was important as a dear friend to do this,” I was told.
Mrs. Obama and her friends paid for their hotel rooms and other personal expenses. All first ladies, however, get 24-hour security and transportation on military aircraft. When Mrs. Obama flies on personal business, she pays what amounts to a first-class fare, but taxpayers pick up most of the overhead costs for the plane and security.
The story has taken on a life of its own; on Monday morning, news shows and blogs were still debating the merits of the trip and Matt Drudge was featuring stories about it at the top of his page. Politics is about perception. For the record: Mrs. Obama did not attend a charity ball in Marbella hosted by Antonio Banderas and Eva Longoria on Saturday night.
This is good news for Megan McArdle, also, since it proves empirical data showing that having “friends” can improve a rational actor’s chances of scoring a sweet trip to Spain, albeit with the trade-off of having to fake non-rational concepts like “sympathy”, or at least listen to a lot of words that don’t directly involve high-value consumer purchases or even the supreme importance of individual autonomy. But still, Marbella!
Consider this an open thread, okay?