Those of us who thought the "Michelle tours Marbella" saga ended after the First Lady dined on char-grilled turbot with the King and Queen of Spain and returned to Washington, D.C. were mistaken. Seems today the Obama spin team has taken prevarication to a new level. I knew things were getting dicey when Michelle decided to skip the Starlite Gala, hosted by Obama friend and frequent White House guest Eva Longoria and Zorro, better known as Antonio Banderas. Supposedly, the star-studded event was coincidentally scheduled for the same weekend Michelle and her entourage visited the Villa Padierna. Trust me: With the Obamas, nothing happens by chance.
When Mrs. Obama surprisingly declined the invitation to Marbella's toniest event, it was obvious Barry must have warned America's jet-setting First Wife to cool it because political blowback was splashing all over him and the Democratic Party.
Bloggers, cable news shows, and every major news organization, including even CBS, questioned the Spanish trip's timing. Americans struggling to pay mortgages and feed families justifiably felt Michelle's "ritzy vacation in Spain while the U.S. faces tough economic times was off-message -- as was highlighting the beaches in Spain after urging Americans to head to Florida's Gulf Coast to help out the tourism industry impacted by the BP oil spill."
Americans are disgusted by Michelle flaunting excess in the face of struggling, unemployed citizens, who just last week were told the España excursion was a "private" mother-daughter trip. Fed up, people are not buying the newest heart-wrenching story that the five-day jaunt to Spain was a self-sacrificial outing made to comfort a mourning friend. As a result, damage control is officially in full swing.
Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun Times wrote that Michelle Obama "made the trip because she promised one of her closest friends, a longtime Chicago pal who just lost her father, she would spend time with her." Are Americans supposed to believe that a quarter-million-dollar-plus, transatlantic, taxpayer-funded trip took place in lieu of a belated condolence card and a floral arrangement?
The story being circulated is that Anita Blanchard, Michelle's obstetrician, lost her father recently, and supposedly, "Mrs. Obama was not able to make the funeral at the beginning of July."
Does Michelle Obama rearrange the calendar only for vacations, but not for funerals?
Dr. Blanchard purportedly promised her daughter a trip to Spain for her birthday and invited Michelle and Sasha to tag along to spend post-funeral time together. So let's see...Michelle left Barack with Oprah Winfrey on his birthday to travel with baby doc Blanchard to one of Europe's poshest resorts.
How did the conversation unfold? "Oh Anita, I'm so sorry about your dad's untimely death. Let's assuage the grief by spending some girlfriend time eating tapas and chatting inside a canvas beach hut beside the sunny Mediterranean Sea." Sorry, but Michelle strutting through Marbella in a one-sleeved, black and white Jean Paul Gaultier top and oversized Chanel sunglasses doesn't exactly convey the message of a woman consoling a bereaved friend. Maybe it's just that Middle America is unacquainted with the Chicago funerary tradition of flamenco dancing a month after burying a parent. The White House is also saying that Mrs. Obama did not travel with three dozen close and intimate friends, as reported in the press. So why were sixty rooms reserved in the Villa Padierna for an average of $2,500 a night?
According to Mrs. Obama's spokeswoman Catherine McCormick Lelyvel, the grief getaway included "six White House advance staffers and two East Wing staffers, Deputy Chief of Staff Melissa Winter and Mrs. Obama's personal assistant, Kristen Jarvis."
In addition to the 250 security personnel supplied by the Spaniards, Mrs. Obama employed "three shifts of uniformed and plainclothes agents and military personnel flew with her on a big Air Force 757."
In addition to attempting to clarify Michelle's trip, Lynn Sweet asked the obvious question: "So why did Mrs. Obama go to Spain at this time? She's not tone-deaf politically." Does the Washington Bureau Chief for Chicago Sun Times mean politically "tone-deaf" on the style of President Obama? In the article, entitled "Inside story of Michelle's trip," a probative Lynn Sweet inquired even further: "What was behind the 'mother-daughter' vacation?" You mean besides perusing exclusive shops, strutting around town in strappy Maison Martin Margiela sandals, sunning on a balmy beach, dining in exquisite restaurants, and paying homage to Spain's "cultural tribute to Muslims," the Alhambra Palace?
Presently, presidential spinmeisters are submerged in a campaign to head off trip-to-Spain flack and are answering Sweet's inquiries by saying Michelle "felt it was important as a dear friend"...to do what? Travel to a five-star resort, barricade off large swathes of a public Marbella beach, and flaunt the privileged perks of the elite in the face of struggling Americans?
Presidential apologist, shameless lackey, and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked at a briefing if there was any concern about "the appearance" of Mrs. Obama's Spain trip.
With a straight face, Gibbs actually made the following, very private statement: "The first lady is on a private trip. She is a private citizen and is the mother of a daughter on a private trip. And I think I'd leave it at that."
Wrong! The day Michelle Obama launched the Let's Move governmental task force and became America's spokesperson/monitor for BMI and CEO of the fatty food patrol, the First Lady officially became a very public figure.
This week, that same public figure expects America to swallow the story that $75,000 a day was spent on the Costa del Sol to console a bereaved friend, when overdue hugs and tears could have been shared in Washington, D.C. at no cost to the American taxpayer.