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Posted: September 3, 2010 12:00 a.m.

Lead by example

One of the basic tenets of leadership that is taught in our military is "lead by example." The higher your rank, the more important it is that you set a good example and act responsibly. For example, the Army has a tradition of commissioned officers dressed in their finest uniforms serving Thanksgiving dinner to the troops. We were also taught that the officers always wait to eat last in the field in the event there is not enough food to go around.

So it is with astonishment that I watch our president and his family take one vacation after another during some of our worst economic times since the 1930s. During Mr. Obama’s first full year in office, there were four vacations of varying length and six so far this year. As Americans struggle to keep their homes, the Obamas have enjoyed Yellowstone and The Grand Canyon National Parks, Martha’s Vineyard, Asheville, N.C., the Gulf Coast and several extended visits to Hawaii.

Of all of their taxpayer funded jaunts, two in particular stick in the craw of most working Americans. The first was the "date night" the president and first lady took from Washington to New York City on May 30, 2009. Saying that he had promised Michelle dinner and an evening of Broadway after the election, their date took three Air Force planes, accompanying staff and military participation to get his limousine to NYC, all of the protection in the city from both the Secret Service and local police and the general disruption of Manhattan traffic that a presidential visit entails. How much did this cost the taxpayers of America? The White House refused to answer the question.

The second particularly galling use of taxpayer dollars came with Michelle’s visit to Spain in early August. Mrs. Obama took an Air Force version of a Boeing 757 and 40 of her closest friends to a five-star hotel in the trendy Costa del Sol region of Spain. The entire party of travelers, including staff, security and others, took 60-70 rooms, none of which came cheap. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that the first lady, "is a private citizen" and was on a "private trip." For this taxpayer funded "private trip" by a "private citizen" most of the costs are unknown since the figures were not released. We do know the aircraft alone cost taxpayers $11,351 an hour, or $147,563 for the round trip according to CBS News.

How could the president and first lady be so out of touch with reality in this near depression? The answer is easy. Because the national media refuses to call them to task for any policy, for any mistakes; they know no bounds. They can get away with most anything that no other president could have even imagined. Yet this slack will be their ultimate undoing because the American people are not fooled by their lack of accountability nor are we amused by their free spending travels. The citizens of this country are far smarter than given credit for by the media and if the media will not keep this administration in line, the indignation of our people surely will. November is coming.

State Sen. John Douglas (R-Social Circle) is the 17th state Senate district. He can be reached at (404) 656-0503, or john.douglas@senate.ga.gov.

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