Sunday, February 8, 2009

There is a well-known adage in the nation’s capital that many politicians come pledging to reform the cesspool but soon join the hot tub. And so did many Democrats - literally jumping into a hot tub at a three-day retreat that President Barack Obama briefly attended (probably not long enough to literally join the hot-tub gang). The Democratic House Caucus retreat was held this weekend at a Williamsburg luxury spa, to the cost of half a million dollars for the American taxpayer, and Mr. Obama flew the 155 miles on Air Force One (after getting to Andrews AFB by Marine One) for a brief appearance.

This is not just blatant hypocrisy by the president, it is downright political folly — He was just on national television apologizing for violating his own ethical standards by previously supporting Sen. Tom Daschle for a top appointment despite his failure to pay $128,000 in taxes.

On the heels of this, Mr. Obama committed another unforced gaffe. While millions of Americans are losing their job and enduring hard times, many House Democrats talked about it over a back rub and a pedicure (presumably House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Joe Biden, who both were there, had different appointment schedules, if they availed themselves of the amenities).

The three-day planning session was held at the Kingsmill Resort and Spa in Williamsburg, Va., a resort that contains championship golf courses, a full-service spa and six restaurants. Taxpayers paid $70,000 for congressmen to ride to the spa on Amtrak - and for security helicopters overhead. Tens of thousands more was spent on food and entertainment. Whatever happened to just using a conference table and a couple of chairs for a planning meeting? Why the five-star treatment? But let’s be fair: Republicans have done the same thing in the past, and at the same spa.

Mr. Obama, who was all fire and brimstone for two years on the campaign trail, expressing solidarity with the poor and underprivileged in America, should be a bit more circumspect in events such as this. The Democrat leadership should be considerably more circumspect. Americans last November voiced their utter distaste for excesses by electing Mr. Obama and the Democrats, who would be wise to drop the spa treatment and stick to doing the job - faithfully, prudently and frugally - as they so vehemently promised when they were asking each citizen to trust them with their vote.

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