2. Date Fright
Incident: Mr. and Mrs. Obama jetted up to New York City for a “date night” — dinner and a Broadway play — in May, 2009.
Criticism: Conservative commentators and Republican officials slagged the president for having a flashy night on the town during a recession.
Infuriating fact: A few months earlier, executives from the struggling, bailed-out American auto industry were widely criticized for traveling to Washington hearings in expensive private jets. Why should Mr. Obama get a free pass?
Mitigating fact: Mr. and Mrs. Obama seem to have a, you know, loving marriage.
Quotable: Said Rick Santorum: “I think [Mr. Obama] has to realize that flying to New York is self-indulgent. Go down to the corner bar and have a drink, a shot and a beer. It does not matter where you go with your wife, it’s with your wife. That’s really the point.”
Cake rating: Zero slices. In a harried, fast-paced world where romance is more or less dead - sorry, did you just propose to me? I was checking my iPhone - bashing the president for being a good husband is just tacky.
3. Concerted Efforts
Incident: In May of last year, the Obamas held a “celebration of poetry and prose” party in the East Room of the White House, with Chicago rapper Common among the invited guests.
Criticism: Common — real name: Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr. — wrote a song honoring Assata Shakur, a convicted-cop killer and fugitive former Black Panther now living in Cuba; the rapper also expressed public support for convicted murderer and controversial cause celebre Mumia Abu-Jamal. A spokesman for the New Jersey State Police union blasted the White House.
Mitigating fact: Among hip-hop fans, Common is known for thoughtful, positive and literate music; he also does charitable work with poor children in Chicago.
Quotable: “The young people who read this stuff, hear this stuff, are getting a very dangerous and deadly message,” said president of the State Troopers Fraternal Association union David Jones, referring to Common’s lyrics.
Cake rating: One cupcake. A little tone deaf when it comes to law enforcement, sure, but hardly a textbook Let Them Eat Cake moment - in fact, it was a lot less annoying from a have-and-have-not standpoint than the time the Dow plummeted on the same day that Stevie Wonder, Charles Barkley, Jay-Z, Tom Hanks, Emmitt Smith and others partied at the White House.
4. Hawaii Five-Oh No
Incident: The Obamas took a 17-day trip Hawaii at the end of last year, the family’s annual Christmas vacation.