Tin ear: 1. an insensitivity to melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic variety in music. 2. an insensitivity to subtlety or appropriateness in verbal expression: a tin ear for clear, precise prose. 3. cauliflower ear.
OK, forget No. 3. And who knows about No. 1, although he does he does have Lil Wayne on his iPod (and who even still has an iPod?). But President Obama clearly suffers from definition No. 2.
Still, it’s more than just those big tin ears. Mr. Obama seems to have a tin sensibility. Maybe even a tin heart (unlike the “Wizard of Oz” Tin Man, who simply had no heart - but wait, by movie’s end, didn’t he already have a heart of gold?). Our president simply does whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and who cares about the visuals?
Mr. Obama has been on the golf course when U.S. soldiers were blown to bits by roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan. President George W. Bush, perhaps America’s best golfing president, gave up the game so as not to be hitting mashie niblicks while America’s military men died overseas. Mr. Obama was infamously on the golf course even as the CIA was minutes away from taking out Osama bin Laden. (That’s why he got that back-row seat in the picture released by the White House - he just wasn’t a part of the mission.)
And now, with America reeling from an endless recession much of his making, Mr. Obama is heading off on a 17-day vacation in Hawaii. Seventeen days. Ask your friends, ask your friends to ask their friends: “Who’s taking a 17-day vacation this year?”
CNN: “There’s still a month to go before the end of the year, but most Americans will let their last remaining vacation days go unused. The average American worker earned 14 vacation days this year but will take only 12 of them, according to a survey by Expedia. … Altogether, Americans are giving up 226 million unused vacation days this year. Considering that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average full-time worker earns $39,416 a year - that’s $34.3 billion worth of time.”
Why? “The reason most workers say they chose to slave away at work rather than relax on a beach, is that they could not afford to travel, Expedia said.”
Well, it must be a worldwide phenomenon, right? “Workers in France earned 30 vacation days, on average, in 2011, and often used every single one of those days. The same goes for employees in Brazil and Spain, Expedia said. In the UK, workers get 25 days and they used all 25.”
This as a new website pops up to offer cash-strapped parents the chance to rent toys for their Christmas. This as more than half of all Americans think they simply won’t have enough money for the holidays this year. This as some 15 million people are out of work.
But the Obamas, they like their vacations: Hawaii, Martha’s Vineyard, Spain, Vail - wherever, whenever. Whipped by work? How about 11 days chilling on the Vine, kicking back on a 30-acre estate worth $24 million? Still exhausted? Just jump over to Oahu to a multimillion-dollar pad for some R&R.
The expansive vacay comes just as Mr. O is getting desperate. Word is his internal polls are dismal: One source described them as “heinous.” Florida is fully in play, as are Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, even little states like New Hampshire and Nevada. And Pennsylvania: The president even went to his veep’s hometown, Scranton, to shore up support among white working-class voters.
How desperate is the incumbent getting? His New York fundraiser trip last week (at rush hour, just when the Rockefeller Center tree was being lit - tin ear?) showed a completely different candidate. “I’ve got to win in 2012,” he said, and, “In order to finish the job, I’m going to have to have a second term.”
But back to all those people skipping their vacations this year. Stuart Rubinstein, managing director at TD Ameritrade, summed it up best in the CNN report. “People feel that they need face time in the office,” he said. “They worry that being out of the office might make them next on the list.”
Hmm. Maybe the president should start worrying about whether the American people are going to make him “next on the list,” and get back to work.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.