On April 1, the U.S. economy dropped a whopping 2.9 percent for the first three months of the year (no fooling). The American workforce participation rate fell to a 40-year low. One-third of people aged 18-29 have moved back in with their parents. Millions of Americans this summer will enjoy yet another "staycation": They just can't afford to go to the beach or the mountains, even for a week — again.
Swipe cut to President Obama: He's eating shave ice in Honolulu; playing golf (some 180 rounds so far); jetting off to Martha's Vineyard for a 15-day vacation in a $12 million house on the beach. He's playing pool in Colorado (he turned down an offer from a young heckler to smoke some weed); eating barbecue with a college student in Minnesota; hitting fundraiser after fundraiser across the country (at $228,000 an hour for his swank 747 super-jumbo jet).
Cut back to the economy. By the end of April (no fooling), the federal government had set a new record for total tax receipts, pulling in $1,735,030,000,000. Yes, you people out there sent in $1.7 trillion — in seven months. It didn't matter, though: The government still ran a $306 billion deficit. By the end of fiscal year 2014, you'll have sent in more than $3 trillion total, but the feds will spend $3.65 trillion, a deficit of some $650 billion, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Fade to black. Fin.
The job of president is, in large part, about perception — style over substance. The president really can't do much (especially this one); he gets blamed for things that aren't his fault (but also takes credit for things that aren't his doing, especially this one).
In the end, all the president has is his character. It's like Andrew Shepherd says in "The American President": "For the last couple of months, Senator Rumson has suggested that being president of this country was, to a certain extent, about character I can tell you without hesitation — being president of this country is entirely about character." (If it's in a Hollywood movie, it must be true.)
Democratic presidents are always the first to forget that once in the White House. President Clinton's character went up in a puff of smoke with his love affair with an intern. More, though, he had won office with the motto "I Feel Your Pain," but each summer he jetted off for three weeks to Martha's Vineyard, where the residents never feel anything close to pain. The lapdog media ignored the hypocrisy.
Same with this president. Mr. Obama is now in full campaign mode, trying to save the Senate in the 2014 mid-term elections. At each stop, he rails against the "1 percent," berates the greedy "rich" (which he defines as anyone making $200,000), decries income inequality. Yet come vacation time, he, too, is off to the tony Vineyard for a fortnight in a mansion.
"The seven-bedroom, nine-bath, 8,100-square-foot house, sits on a 10-acre lot and is assessed at more than $12 million. It features 17 rooms in total, expansive water views of Vineyard Sound, an infinity pool and hot tub, and a dual tennis-basketball court," the Martha's Vineyard Times reported.
Forget that the United States is deep into what Mr. Obama dramatically declares a "humanitarian crisis," that the Middle East is a powder keg about to blow, that Iraq has all but fallen to Islamist terrorists. (Why not forget; the president has.) But as Americans continue to pour their hard-earned cash into government coffers, maybe the president — for appearances, if nothing else — could cut back a bit, too.
Not the Obamas. They won the White House and, by God, they're going to enjoy their time there, no matter the cost. And who cares what you think, anyway? They've done so since the beginning, even during what Mr. Obama called "the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression."
They ended 2012 and kicked off 2013 in an $8 million, 6,000-square-foot house in Hawaii. There, the president played five rounds of golf. Scarcely a month into Term 2, Mrs. Obama headed off for Aspen, taking along the couple's daughters. (Vice President Joseph R. Biden also hit the Colorado slopes.) And on and on.
Remember that back then, Mr. Obama had shut down the White House to visitors, citing the cost of security. No, the Obamas' weren't about to trim the number of vacations they take each year so taxpayers could visit "America's House."
The Obamas couldn't care less about the perception of living high while many hardworking Americans are struggling to get by. It's different when it's a Democrat. They're entitled to a good life, a better life than you, anyway. And the media will never play the hypocrisy card, because the ends always justify the means.
But wait and see: Americans will show their displeasure come Nov. 4.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @josephcurl.