This Year’s Martha’s Vineyard Scandal: Bo Obama

The first dog is the latest symbol of presidential vacation excess.

This week, President Obama and his family return to Martha’s Vineyard for another August vacation. It’s their fourth trip since Obama began his presidency, which means the opposition, outraged at his luxe choice of destinations amidst a slow economic recovery, might be looking for a new angle. As luck will have it, they got one in Portuguese Water Dog Bo Obama, who seems to have flown to the island on a separate flight.

The Telegraph reports:

Bo, the president’s Portuguese Water Dog, arrived separately on one of two MV-22 Ospreys, a hybrid aircraft which takes off like a helicopter but flies like a plane.

It was the first time the Ospreys have been taken on holiday by a US president.

(Update: A White House pool report confirms that Bo was on an MV-22, but adds that the plane also transported White House staff, media, and the Secret Service. In contrast to the spin of several reports, that would suggest the plane was not brought out for the sole purpose of flying the dog to the island.)

The conservative aggregator website soon linked to the tidbit on Bo, and ahoy, we have a symbol of holiday excess to debate in columns and on cable news for the next week. (Runner up in the scandal contest would probably be this photo of Obama, leg up, leaning full tilt as if to urge his golf ball into the hole. His telekenetic attempt did not work.)

Of course, it’s a bipartisan right to complain about presidential vacations, and we saw no shortage of it with George W. Bush. But Obama’s defiant selection of Martha’s Vineyard seems to generate more column inches than actual voter backlash. After all, we see complaints every year, but except for last summer, three months before the election, Obama hasn’t changed his plans in response to them.

Even before Bo-Gate broke, the local complaining fell into the capable hands of Boston Herald pundit Holly Robichaud. Robichaud, a Republican strategist, focuses on how the vacation plays in contrast to many Americans’ circumstances:

Our president has made no simple gesture of cutting back on vacations to show that he understands the value of tax dollars or express sympathy to those suffering through this lackluster recovery. He can go on vacation without it costing millions. It’s called Camp David.

Obama seems to bet on the idea that Americans aren’t paying attention and/or don’t really begrudge him a little time away. Meanwhile, on the island itself, those residents who aren’t inconvenienced by road closures seem anxious to have him back. The Washington Post’s Billy Kenber writes:

Islanders rejected that argument, saying they thought that the commander in chief deserved a break and expressing hope that the publicity would encourage more people to visit, boosting the local economy.

One retailer was looking to cash in with T-shirts bearing the slogan “I vacationed with Obama — Martha’s Vineyard ’13,” while another store, Portobello Road in Edgartown, had already sold a handmade wooden sign reading “Obama Rules” and was touting a second.

And with that, political merry-go-round takes another turn.

  • Sam West

    It does not matter how the “political merry-go-round” turns. What matters is whether it is right for the President to fly his dogs for vacation using the military and on the taxpayer’s dime. But, like the rest of media establishment, the Magazine must have taken a vow of silence on the ethical evaluation of the current government employees.

    • Nick Aieta

      Political figures must use their own money in these instances – the family will (and you can follow up on this if you like) be paying for the cost of the aircraft. It’s the same as when the president campaigns while in office and uses Air Force One to fly places.

      • Tim Spatola

        how much did he pay for the Africa trip?

        • Nick Aieta

          Unfortunately, like Presidents Bush and Clinton before him (and President Reagan traveling to Europe), President Obama is combining foreign policy with a perquisite to bring family. In my personal opinion, political figures should pay a portion of the fees for such trips when family members come along. For comparison sake though, the Bush family (George, Laura, and the girls on at a least one occasion) made 7 trips to Africa between 2001 and 2008.

          • gobnait

            And the Bushes have done more to fight AIDS in Africa than any president in recent memory.

      • Kevin Goettl

        I want to see His tax returns that show He paid for the first mutt’s air travel

        • ExRepug

          Where, on a tax return, would that be reflected? Please tell.

          • Kevin Goettl

            Travel expense, genius. If you ever filed a federal tax return, you’d know that.

          • agingcynic

            And if YOU had filed one , you would know that federal employees are not engaged in deductible expenses since they are not working for a tax paying entity, they are working for a tax COLLECTING entity. On the other hand, there are fairly explicit rules about what perks should be declared as taxable income by the Obama’s. If the IRS had any inclination to enforce those rules in a fair, unbiased way, Mr. Obama would have a tax return the size of the “Affordable Care” Act. Instead, he could probably use the Short Form with impunity. It’s good to be The King.

      • agingcynic

        In theory, you are correct. However, this administration has a propensity to “color outside the lines” unseen since Nixon. When Chicago Democrats are trusted to do the right thing with free money, it usually ends badly. At least that’s what Jesse Jackson Jr. says.

        • Fred Hofer

          What a shallow stupid post!

          • agingcynic

            And yet you felt compelled to respond in kind. I guess if you are frustrated by the facts of the message, you can always attack the messenger.

  • mmmjv

    Bo did not arrive on his own private plane. He was just on a different plane. You do know that when the President of the United States flies anywhere they take more than one plane don’t you?

  • pepe

    leave BO alone ! wof !

  • homes

    He should lead by example….Camp David is extremely nice, His carbon foot print is WIDE and DEEP….

  • Nom De Guerre

    I’m a registered Republican and disagree with much of Obama’s policy and governing. However, I think any first family deserves a vacation. Martha’s Vineyard can be a relatively inexpensive vacation if you have friends as Obama does or if you watch for good lodging deals. The bulk of the cost to tax payers is the transportation and entourage. So vacation well, Obama, then get back to Washington and clean up your mess. If only…

  • Fred Hofer

    Read Snopes and find the story FALSE!