Presidential pomp and grandeur HOAX

UPDATE: The following story going around is not true. I believe there is a car like “The Beast” and some of the details about the security arrangements may be true, but the $200 million-per-day expense and the squadron of ships and probably other examples of wretched excess are not. Thanks to Webmonk and Kirk for digging up the facts. I apologize to the President for this error.

A British account of our President’s travel arrangements during his trip to Asia:

Probably not since the days of the Pharaohs or the more ludicrous Roman Emperors has a head of state travelled in such pomp and expensive grandeur as the President of the United States of America.

While lesser mortals – the Pope, Queen Elizabeth and so on – are usually happy to let their hosts handle most of the security and transport arrangements when they venture beyond their home shores, the United States creates a mini-America on the move to ensure that nothing is left to chance.

At the heart of the White House caravan is ‘The Beast’, a gigantic, ‘pimped-up’ General Motors Cadillac which security experts say is, short of an actual battle tank, probably the safest road vehicle on the planet.

But an outlandish car is only the start. Mr Obama will fly, of course, on Air Force One, the presidential private jumbo jet, which, boasting double beds and suites, is fitted out more like a luxury yacht. Some reports suggest it costs around $50,000 (£31,000) an hour to operate.

Of course threats can come from any direction, so a squadron of U.S. naval ships will patrol offshore. Some reports have claimed that 34 ships, including two aircraft carriers, will be involved (not far off the size of the Royal Navy’s entire Surface Fleet) but the White House has denied this.

On land, as well as The Beast, Mr Obama’s entourage will travel in a fleet of 45 U.S.-built armoured limousines, half of which will be decoys. He will also travel with 30 elite sniffer dogs, mostly German Shepherds.

The White House has, according to some reports, booked the entire Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, the city’s most luxurious. It is not uncommon for the grander heads of state to reserve a floor or two, but a whole hotel is unprecedented. This hotel was the main target of the 2008 attacks by Pakistani militants which left 166 dead.

As to the cost of all this, the White House will not reveal details – which has allowed Mr Obama’s political foes to bandy about sums including a widely-quoted $200million (£123million) a day. Whatever the figure, it makes the costs associated with the Royal Train and the late Royal Yacht Britannia seem like small change.

It is also reported that a bomb-proof tunnel will be erected for Mr Obama ahead of his visit to Mani Bhavan – the Gandhi museum – on Saturday.

via Obama’s India visit security erect a bomb proof tunnel at the Gandhi museum | Mail Online.

The British are masters of pomp and grandeur, so it takes a lot  to get them indignant.  I don’t begrudge the security measures, but it still looks like the American empire is #1 in wretched excess.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://insidepastorkevinshead.blogspot.com/ Kevin Sorensen

    Fascinating report. I’m not disagreeing with the statement, “…still looks like the American empire is #1 in wretched excess.” After all, one only need look as far as the First Lady’s trip to Spain to see that.

    My query comes from the article. Granted, it is from a British newspaper and they write differently that do we, but there are so many biased phrases used to express their indignation, that it leaves me wondering whatever happened to “neutral reporting”? (I also realize that there has probably never been such a “beast” as “neutral reporting” or unbiased reporting, but this article definitely seem to push the envelope.)

  • http://insidepastorkevinshead.blogspot.com/ Kevin Sorensen

    Fascinating report. I’m not disagreeing with the statement, “…still looks like the American empire is #1 in wretched excess.” After all, one only need look as far as the First Lady’s trip to Spain to see that.

    My query comes from the article. Granted, it is from a British newspaper and they write differently that do we, but there are so many biased phrases used to express their indignation, that it leaves me wondering whatever happened to “neutral reporting”? (I also realize that there has probably never been such a “beast” as “neutral reporting” or unbiased reporting, but this article definitely seem to push the envelope.)

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    I would be most curious as to what readers here think would or should be the alternative:

    1) the president should stop traveling abroad
    2) there should be less security for him.
    3 ) alternative view…. this just reflects the over-caution of americans in everything today where we try to make EVERYTHING safe… childproof caps and lighters, OSHA, ridiculous security at airports. We seem to imagine that we are able to protect ourselves from terrorism. If we want to maintain a free society, maybe we will have to accept that some terrorists attacks will happen on our soil inevitably and learn not to react so hard, but get on with things?

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    I would be most curious as to what readers here think would or should be the alternative:

    1) the president should stop traveling abroad
    2) there should be less security for him.
    3 ) alternative view…. this just reflects the over-caution of americans in everything today where we try to make EVERYTHING safe… childproof caps and lighters, OSHA, ridiculous security at airports. We seem to imagine that we are able to protect ourselves from terrorism. If we want to maintain a free society, maybe we will have to accept that some terrorists attacks will happen on our soil inevitably and learn not to react so hard, but get on with things?

  • Pete

    The goal of protecting our president abroad is a worthy one although, at some point the cost becomes prohibitive. If the numbers quoted in the article are close to accurate, we may have passed that point. Certainly, in the age of Skype, it would seem less necessary for a head of state to physically visit a foreign country.
    A less expensive option employed by past presidents was to do quick, unannounced trips to U.S. military facilities abroad where the security infrastructure is already in place.
    fws’s observation #3 above is insightful. Our penchant for risk free existence drives the cost of everything up.

  • Pete

    The goal of protecting our president abroad is a worthy one although, at some point the cost becomes prohibitive. If the numbers quoted in the article are close to accurate, we may have passed that point. Certainly, in the age of Skype, it would seem less necessary for a head of state to physically visit a foreign country.
    A less expensive option employed by past presidents was to do quick, unannounced trips to U.S. military facilities abroad where the security infrastructure is already in place.
    fws’s observation #3 above is insightful. Our penchant for risk free existence drives the cost of everything up.

  • Carl Vehse

    Other than demonstrating wretched excess and the opportunity for the TOTUS to be seen by Indian government officials, just why was this outrageously expensive trip necessary for the benefit of the United States?

    BTW, we can thank the Indians for their contribution to mathematics that has been so useful in discussing the regime of 0bama.

  • Carl Vehse

    Other than demonstrating wretched excess and the opportunity for the TOTUS to be seen by Indian government officials, just why was this outrageously expensive trip necessary for the benefit of the United States?

    BTW, we can thank the Indians for their contribution to mathematics that has been so useful in discussing the regime of 0bama.

  • Bill C

    Most of this article could have been written about any president going to any country in recent history. The plane, the car, the motorcade, the security procedures–these things are not unique to Mr. Obama. All this article shows is that the British have been disillusioned that he didn’t turn us into a clone of their society as they had hoped.

  • Bill C

    Most of this article could have been written about any president going to any country in recent history. The plane, the car, the motorcade, the security procedures–these things are not unique to Mr. Obama. All this article shows is that the British have been disillusioned that he didn’t turn us into a clone of their society as they had hoped.

  • WebMonk

    Sorry, but y’all have swallowed a false story on this. I would have thought it was blatantly obvious that this was a ridiculous and laughable story, but I guess not. I’m not surprised Vehse believes it, but come on, the rest of you guys should have seen through this!

    Come on, you guys. Show a little bit of that common sense. The war in Afghanistan only costs $190 million per day for all of its tanks, jets, ships, and over 100,000 people. There’s no way a presidential trip could cost that much.

    If anyone had bothered to look, there are a dozen stories out there which point out how this story is false.

    The Pentagon Press Secretary actually came out in response with this little gem:
    “I will take the liberty this time of dismissing as absolutely absurd this notion that somehow we were deploying 10 percent of the Navy — some 34 ships and an aircraft carrier — in support of the president’s trip to Asia. … That’s just comical. Nothing close to that is being done.”

    Of course no one will trust what the White House has to say on this, but they’ve stated it is a nonsensical, false, and wildly exaggerated story. They won’t release the numbers but have said it’s roughly the same as presidential trips of past presidents. I tried looking it up, but a LOT of stories beat me to it, and it turns out that the biggest trip for which there are public records was a trip by Clinton to Africa and it cost $48 million, total. Not per day – total.

    Then toss in the ever so minor detail that the one and only source for this $200 million dollars per day figure is an anonymous source from a single Indian newspaper that has never had any other support from anywhere else.

    But sure, the story says something bad about someone we don’t like, so let’s accept it as gospel truth without any thought or checking.

  • WebMonk

    Sorry, but y’all have swallowed a false story on this. I would have thought it was blatantly obvious that this was a ridiculous and laughable story, but I guess not. I’m not surprised Vehse believes it, but come on, the rest of you guys should have seen through this!

    Come on, you guys. Show a little bit of that common sense. The war in Afghanistan only costs $190 million per day for all of its tanks, jets, ships, and over 100,000 people. There’s no way a presidential trip could cost that much.

    If anyone had bothered to look, there are a dozen stories out there which point out how this story is false.

    The Pentagon Press Secretary actually came out in response with this little gem:
    “I will take the liberty this time of dismissing as absolutely absurd this notion that somehow we were deploying 10 percent of the Navy — some 34 ships and an aircraft carrier — in support of the president’s trip to Asia. … That’s just comical. Nothing close to that is being done.”

    Of course no one will trust what the White House has to say on this, but they’ve stated it is a nonsensical, false, and wildly exaggerated story. They won’t release the numbers but have said it’s roughly the same as presidential trips of past presidents. I tried looking it up, but a LOT of stories beat me to it, and it turns out that the biggest trip for which there are public records was a trip by Clinton to Africa and it cost $48 million, total. Not per day – total.

    Then toss in the ever so minor detail that the one and only source for this $200 million dollars per day figure is an anonymous source from a single Indian newspaper that has never had any other support from anywhere else.

    But sure, the story says something bad about someone we don’t like, so let’s accept it as gospel truth without any thought or checking.

  • Kirk

    http://factcheck.org/2010/11/ask-factcheck-trip-to-mumbai/

    There’s that.

    I know that we all hate Obama, but just because we want something to be true doesn’t make that thing true (sorry, Carl). A $200 million/day price tag is laughable. The same source posited that we’d have 34 warships (about 10% of the entire fleet) on station in Indian Ocean for the visit. This also goes to show what, no matter how bad the “lame stream media” is, Rush Limbaugh, WND, et al. are far, far worse for perpetuation BS like this.

    It’s also worth noting that security isn’t the president’s prerogative. He doesn’t determine how many decoy SUVs or how many body guards he needs. The Secret Service does that. And, as Bill pointed out, this entourage isn’t unique to Obama.

  • Kirk

    http://factcheck.org/2010/11/ask-factcheck-trip-to-mumbai/

    There’s that.

    I know that we all hate Obama, but just because we want something to be true doesn’t make that thing true (sorry, Carl). A $200 million/day price tag is laughable. The same source posited that we’d have 34 warships (about 10% of the entire fleet) on station in Indian Ocean for the visit. This also goes to show what, no matter how bad the “lame stream media” is, Rush Limbaugh, WND, et al. are far, far worse for perpetuation BS like this.

    It’s also worth noting that security isn’t the president’s prerogative. He doesn’t determine how many decoy SUVs or how many body guards he needs. The Secret Service does that. And, as Bill pointed out, this entourage isn’t unique to Obama.

  • Kirk

    Webmonk and I, we’re on the same page.

  • Kirk

    Webmonk and I, we’re on the same page.

  • Cincinnatus

    Kirk and WebMonk: Correct, of course. But you both miss the broader point being made about the Imperial Presidency.

    Let me refer to FWS@1: Yes, I support all three of the above options. I resent when my political leaders cannot travel in the absence of what amounts to a Praetorian Guard.

  • Cincinnatus

    Kirk and WebMonk: Correct, of course. But you both miss the broader point being made about the Imperial Presidency.

    Let me refer to FWS@1: Yes, I support all three of the above options. I resent when my political leaders cannot travel in the absence of what amounts to a Praetorian Guard.

  • WebMonk

    Ahh, “factcheck”.

    Kirk, don’t you know that those people are just another arm of the Demonrat party spewing out whatever lies their evil Overlord Hussein tells them to say?

    (actually, I’m jealous. I could have found a bunch of that stuff all in one spot instead of a couple dozen different stories of double-checking things)

  • WebMonk

    Ahh, “factcheck”.

    Kirk, don’t you know that those people are just another arm of the Demonrat party spewing out whatever lies their evil Overlord Hussein tells them to say?

    (actually, I’m jealous. I could have found a bunch of that stuff all in one spot instead of a couple dozen different stories of double-checking things)

  • WebMonk

    Cin – that is indeed a valid question and point of discussion. I wouldn’t call it the “broader point” of anyone except fws, though. For everyone else, the “broader point” is that Obama is teh EV1L and this is further proof.

    I realize Dr. Veith can’t check every story he puts up, but at least to me, this story doesn’t even come CLOSE to passing the sniff test and should be assumed false from the first reading. But, maybe that’s just me. The story has been repeated on so many sources that one can be excused for not suspecting it just because so many people were stating it.

    An edit mentioning that this story is false would probably be a good thing, though.

  • WebMonk

    Cin – that is indeed a valid question and point of discussion. I wouldn’t call it the “broader point” of anyone except fws, though. For everyone else, the “broader point” is that Obama is teh EV1L and this is further proof.

    I realize Dr. Veith can’t check every story he puts up, but at least to me, this story doesn’t even come CLOSE to passing the sniff test and should be assumed false from the first reading. But, maybe that’s just me. The story has been repeated on so many sources that one can be excused for not suspecting it just because so many people were stating it.

    An edit mentioning that this story is false would probably be a good thing, though.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    webmonk @ 11

    “An edit mentioning that this story is false would probably be a good thing, though.”

    Naw. that would take the fun out of it. It is posts like this that establishes Dr Veith´s street cred as a conservative and it is fun to watch otherwise conservative but fair minded men and women like you debunk it handily…

    I made some popcorn after I read it and sat back. ready to be entertained by the likes of carl vehse. good stuff. :)

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    webmonk @ 11

    “An edit mentioning that this story is false would probably be a good thing, though.”

    Naw. that would take the fun out of it. It is posts like this that establishes Dr Veith´s street cred as a conservative and it is fun to watch otherwise conservative but fair minded men and women like you debunk it handily…

    I made some popcorn after I read it and sat back. ready to be entertained by the likes of carl vehse. good stuff. :)

  • Tom Hering

    What? Not one mention of the secret, underground tunnel system connecting federal agencies with major cities all over the world by super high-speed rail? Built with alien technology? To further the human-alien hybrid breeding program? Which will require that resistant Christians be sent to the concentration camps being built in deserts? While those “contrails” we see in the sky every day are actually mind-altering chemical sprays that turn whole populations into compliant socialists?

    Slack reporting, I must say.

  • Tom Hering

    What? Not one mention of the secret, underground tunnel system connecting federal agencies with major cities all over the world by super high-speed rail? Built with alien technology? To further the human-alien hybrid breeding program? Which will require that resistant Christians be sent to the concentration camps being built in deserts? While those “contrails” we see in the sky every day are actually mind-altering chemical sprays that turn whole populations into compliant socialists?

    Slack reporting, I must say.

  • Ryan

    I guess I would need the numbers for other Presidential visits, Obama or others, to really figure out if this trip’s cost is out of ordinary.

    I think the part of the issue might be what appears to be ostentatious spedning (piggybacking on other vacations and trips), while US citizens are trying to cut back, dealing with unemployment, and a depressing economic picture.

  • Ryan

    I guess I would need the numbers for other Presidential visits, Obama or others, to really figure out if this trip’s cost is out of ordinary.

    I think the part of the issue might be what appears to be ostentatious spedning (piggybacking on other vacations and trips), while US citizens are trying to cut back, dealing with unemployment, and a depressing economic picture.

  • DonS

    The particulars of this story are in doubt, and the U.S. government will not confirm them in any event, but it is clear that presidential travel is very involved and very expensive. This applies generally, not just to Obama. Is all of this security justified? Probably not, though the President of the U.S. is the most and prestigious prominent target in the world, so obviously security must be very high. I think the change back in the late ’80′s to using a 747 instead of a 707 as Air Force One was a bit lavish, but I guess there weren’t many alternatives at the time which met the safety requirements of at least three engines and a minimum 6,000 mile range. It seems as if it would be good diplomacy to rely more on the host country’s security apparatus, at least for those countries where that apparatus is trustworthy. Certainly, it seems to me that presidents travel way too much. A presidential trip should be a rarity and have important and unique diplomatic ramifications.

    The thing that struck me the most about this story was this passage: “Of course threats can come from any direction, so a squadron of U.S. naval ships will patrol offshore. Some reports have claimed that 34 ships, including two aircraft carriers, will be involved (not far off the size of the Royal Navy’s entire Surface Fleet) but the White House has denied this.”

    The “Royal Navy’s” entire Surface Fleet is not much more than 34 ships, including two aircraft carriers? Really? The formerly proud British Empire has become a pathetic, bloated shell.

  • DonS

    The particulars of this story are in doubt, and the U.S. government will not confirm them in any event, but it is clear that presidential travel is very involved and very expensive. This applies generally, not just to Obama. Is all of this security justified? Probably not, though the President of the U.S. is the most and prestigious prominent target in the world, so obviously security must be very high. I think the change back in the late ’80′s to using a 747 instead of a 707 as Air Force One was a bit lavish, but I guess there weren’t many alternatives at the time which met the safety requirements of at least three engines and a minimum 6,000 mile range. It seems as if it would be good diplomacy to rely more on the host country’s security apparatus, at least for those countries where that apparatus is trustworthy. Certainly, it seems to me that presidents travel way too much. A presidential trip should be a rarity and have important and unique diplomatic ramifications.

    The thing that struck me the most about this story was this passage: “Of course threats can come from any direction, so a squadron of U.S. naval ships will patrol offshore. Some reports have claimed that 34 ships, including two aircraft carriers, will be involved (not far off the size of the Royal Navy’s entire Surface Fleet) but the White House has denied this.”

    The “Royal Navy’s” entire Surface Fleet is not much more than 34 ships, including two aircraft carriers? Really? The formerly proud British Empire has become a pathetic, bloated shell.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    This is all funny, from all sides.
    Skype? Did someone really mention Skype as a viable alternative to a personal visit. That might work for grand children, but…
    And to rely on Indian security measures? Really? Sorry I don’t care who our president is, we can’t outsource security for him as if it were nothing more than a call center. It wouldn’t be much better than if Lee Harvy Oswald was put in charge of security for JFK.
    So. I really don’t care how much it costs. I may not agree with this president on much, but I won’t begrudge him travel expenses.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    This is all funny, from all sides.
    Skype? Did someone really mention Skype as a viable alternative to a personal visit. That might work for grand children, but…
    And to rely on Indian security measures? Really? Sorry I don’t care who our president is, we can’t outsource security for him as if it were nothing more than a call center. It wouldn’t be much better than if Lee Harvy Oswald was put in charge of security for JFK.
    So. I really don’t care how much it costs. I may not agree with this president on much, but I won’t begrudge him travel expenses.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bror (@15), “Skype as a viable alternative to a personal visit. That might work for grand children, but…” I’m sorry, Bror, but no. I know two sets of parents (mine and my wife’s) that would not be happy if I told them we weren’t bringing their grandson home for Christmas. There remains something special about personal visits.

    I submit that is true in the realm of diplomacy, as well. I mean, I’m no expert, but I hardly doubt they’re just doing this to say hello and maybe work out some numbers. Isn’t the point of such visits to either show special favor from one nation to another, or to put on extra pressure?

    If any of you are involved in business, do your business heads ever travel? Do you whine about how that’s a big waste of money, too? But does it still seem necessary? When my company was sold to a major New York publisher, I would not have been happy to hear that the entire negotiations were carried out over Skype.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Bror (@15), “Skype as a viable alternative to a personal visit. That might work for grand children, but…” I’m sorry, Bror, but no. I know two sets of parents (mine and my wife’s) that would not be happy if I told them we weren’t bringing their grandson home for Christmas. There remains something special about personal visits.

    I submit that is true in the realm of diplomacy, as well. I mean, I’m no expert, but I hardly doubt they’re just doing this to say hello and maybe work out some numbers. Isn’t the point of such visits to either show special favor from one nation to another, or to put on extra pressure?

    If any of you are involved in business, do your business heads ever travel? Do you whine about how that’s a big waste of money, too? But does it still seem necessary? When my company was sold to a major New York publisher, I would not have been happy to hear that the entire negotiations were carried out over Skype.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Todd, @16.
    Exactly!

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Todd, @16.
    Exactly!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “The British are masters of pomp and grandeur, so it takes a lot to get them indignant.” Oh, let’s not be naive!

    The Daily Mail is pretty much a regular part of the right-wing echosphere, so it doesn’t take much for it to pass along the latest anti-Obama meme, as these Mail headlines show:

    “First Lady of flamboyance: Michelle Obama’s confident off-duty chic on London city break”

    “Michelle Obama lunches with Spain’s royal family as backlash over her extravagant holiday continues back home”

    “Obama God! Democrats build a temple for Barack”

    “Obama branded ‘Groveller-in-Chief’ after deep bow to Emperor son of Japanese ruler who authorised Pearl Harbour attack”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “The British are masters of pomp and grandeur, so it takes a lot to get them indignant.” Oh, let’s not be naive!

    The Daily Mail is pretty much a regular part of the right-wing echosphere, so it doesn’t take much for it to pass along the latest anti-Obama meme, as these Mail headlines show:

    “First Lady of flamboyance: Michelle Obama’s confident off-duty chic on London city break”

    “Michelle Obama lunches with Spain’s royal family as backlash over her extravagant holiday continues back home”

    “Obama God! Democrats build a temple for Barack”

    “Obama branded ‘Groveller-in-Chief’ after deep bow to Emperor son of Japanese ruler who authorised Pearl Harbour attack”

  • Porcell

    Undoubtedly presidential travel has become exorbitantly expensive, though in the case of India we have a major interest in a strong alliance with a nation that is a democracy and China in its economic development and growth. Pres. Bush made a major effort to cultivate this alliance including a visit in 2006; most analysts regard the Bush work on this alliance as important and successful.

    Obama neglected the alliance with India for almost two years, much to India’s resentment. Whether he can patch things up at this point is doubtful. For an analysis of this, see Tunku Varadarajan’s
    Daily Beast article, A Tattered Special Relationship including:

    Bogged down in health care and bailouts at home, and in “Afpak” abroad, Obama has let the alliance with India wither on the vine. This has frustrated India deeply, especially as a perception came to grip New Delhi that some of Obama’s neglect was payback to India for its closeness to his predecessor. India pushed back hard and furiously at Obama’s early, tone-deaf attempt to foist Richard Holbrooke on the Indian subcontinent as some sort of “Kashmir czar,” and New Delhi has returned, to a noticeable extent, to the pre-Bush method of dealing with America: watch first, and closely; trust later, and sparingly. It is remarkable how an alliance that had seemed so electrifying—indeed, one that had all the hallmarks of a “paradigm shift” in international relations—has been so quickly squandered.

  • Porcell

    Undoubtedly presidential travel has become exorbitantly expensive, though in the case of India we have a major interest in a strong alliance with a nation that is a democracy and China in its economic development and growth. Pres. Bush made a major effort to cultivate this alliance including a visit in 2006; most analysts regard the Bush work on this alliance as important and successful.

    Obama neglected the alliance with India for almost two years, much to India’s resentment. Whether he can patch things up at this point is doubtful. For an analysis of this, see Tunku Varadarajan’s
    Daily Beast article, A Tattered Special Relationship including:

    Bogged down in health care and bailouts at home, and in “Afpak” abroad, Obama has let the alliance with India wither on the vine. This has frustrated India deeply, especially as a perception came to grip New Delhi that some of Obama’s neglect was payback to India for its closeness to his predecessor. India pushed back hard and furiously at Obama’s early, tone-deaf attempt to foist Richard Holbrooke on the Indian subcontinent as some sort of “Kashmir czar,” and New Delhi has returned, to a noticeable extent, to the pre-Bush method of dealing with America: watch first, and closely; trust later, and sparingly. It is remarkable how an alliance that had seemed so electrifying—indeed, one that had all the hallmarks of a “paradigm shift” in international relations—has been so quickly squandered.

  • Porcell

    In the above, I meant to say :.. and rivals China in its economic development and growth.

  • Porcell

    In the above, I meant to say :.. and rivals China in its economic development and growth.

  • DonS

    As I stated above, this is not a partisan issue. The credible evidence is that Obama’s travel costs are comparable to those of prior presidents — that is to say, quite significant.

    Of course, presidents cannot use skype to communicate with other foreign leaders. But also, state visits are not routine matters. We have a diplomatic corps for a reason — to conduct diplomacy with other nations. International communications should routinely be conducted by diplomats. State visits, particularly given their extreme cost and disruption to both nations, should be reserved for extraordinary circumstances, such as the signing of treaties, to address a diplomatic crisis with a friend or foe, to commemorate an important international event (the state funeral of a world leader, or an important anniversary of a key event, such as D-Day) or the rare effort at a breakthrough in relations with an important potential ally or present foe, such as Nixon’s trip to China in 1972. It is difficult for me to imagine why a president or his family should have to travel overseas more than about once a year, though, as Bror says, I don’t begrudge the president his travel expenses if he is truly benefitting the nation in a measurable way by his travel.

    An important thing to keep in mind is that the nature of a presidential visit, and the extreme number of American security personnel involved, while deemed necessary by us, is off-putting to the local population, and can often cause as much or more damage to the U.S. reputation overseas as the diplomatic mission does good. Discretion is called for.

  • DonS

    As I stated above, this is not a partisan issue. The credible evidence is that Obama’s travel costs are comparable to those of prior presidents — that is to say, quite significant.

    Of course, presidents cannot use skype to communicate with other foreign leaders. But also, state visits are not routine matters. We have a diplomatic corps for a reason — to conduct diplomacy with other nations. International communications should routinely be conducted by diplomats. State visits, particularly given their extreme cost and disruption to both nations, should be reserved for extraordinary circumstances, such as the signing of treaties, to address a diplomatic crisis with a friend or foe, to commemorate an important international event (the state funeral of a world leader, or an important anniversary of a key event, such as D-Day) or the rare effort at a breakthrough in relations with an important potential ally or present foe, such as Nixon’s trip to China in 1972. It is difficult for me to imagine why a president or his family should have to travel overseas more than about once a year, though, as Bror says, I don’t begrudge the president his travel expenses if he is truly benefitting the nation in a measurable way by his travel.

    An important thing to keep in mind is that the nature of a presidential visit, and the extreme number of American security personnel involved, while deemed necessary by us, is off-putting to the local population, and can often cause as much or more damage to the U.S. reputation overseas as the diplomatic mission does good. Discretion is called for.

  • saddler

    Some here seem to suggest that the president either travels abroad, or he does not. The question should be the extent to which he has travelled. The article does damage to the argument that Mr. Obama has travelled more than has been necessary. I have a dear friend who is a 20 plus year veteran of the Secret Service. He tells me quite candidly that this administration is definitely not interested in being careful about spending travel money. The Secret Service has to be in country a minimum of three weeks to get everything wired for the arrival of the President. The interface with local law enforcement, setting up communications capability, and the shear number of personnel required to “secure” the venue is staggering. Certainly some of this travel is necessary, but some is clearly not. I’m trying to forget a certain trip to Europe in order to campaign for a Chicago Olympics.

  • saddler

    Some here seem to suggest that the president either travels abroad, or he does not. The question should be the extent to which he has travelled. The article does damage to the argument that Mr. Obama has travelled more than has been necessary. I have a dear friend who is a 20 plus year veteran of the Secret Service. He tells me quite candidly that this administration is definitely not interested in being careful about spending travel money. The Secret Service has to be in country a minimum of three weeks to get everything wired for the arrival of the President. The interface with local law enforcement, setting up communications capability, and the shear number of personnel required to “secure” the venue is staggering. Certainly some of this travel is necessary, but some is clearly not. I’m trying to forget a certain trip to Europe in order to campaign for a Chicago Olympics.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I don’t get it. If it weren’t Obama, it would be McCain. The president has to go, and it costs the same no matter which guy is president. It is just the way it is. Should presidents just make fewer visits. Man, I have no idea.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I don’t get it. If it weren’t Obama, it would be McCain. The president has to go, and it costs the same no matter which guy is president. It is just the way it is. Should presidents just make fewer visits. Man, I have no idea.

  • WebMonk

    DonS, while I commend your concern that security precautions may damage our reputation overseas, I’ve never seen that be a significant worry in real life. There have been gaffes, but there are gaffes in all areas of international relations, and I wouldn’t expect security precautions to be any different. Singling them out as a particular concern certainly doesn’t seem to be born out in real life history.

    Similarly for the general disruption caused by a major visit, while it’s good to be concerned about that in general principal – I’ve never seen that be a particular source of increased ire between countries in real life.

    This India trip seems to be a very good thing on a lot of levels, not the least of which is a very solid showing of support for India to have a permanent seat on the US Council. Having a major visit also helps to soften some of the impact of unpopular actions – human nature appreciates the personal touch many times and statements made on site will often be accepted in a much better manner than statements issued through official channels from 10,000 miles away.

    For example, the visit appears (too early to tell for sure) to have softened some of the reaction to US moves which benefit our exports at the expense of imports. (I’m thinking of the $600 billion T-bond purchase the Fed announced.) From what I’ve read in the news (for what that’s worth) the statements from India have been much less upset than statements from a lot of other countries even though India will feel a good chunk of any dollar devaluation which may occur.

    I can’t say with 100% certainty that the President’s trip is directly responsible for that, but I would lay good odds on the trip being a big part of that.

  • WebMonk

    DonS, while I commend your concern that security precautions may damage our reputation overseas, I’ve never seen that be a significant worry in real life. There have been gaffes, but there are gaffes in all areas of international relations, and I wouldn’t expect security precautions to be any different. Singling them out as a particular concern certainly doesn’t seem to be born out in real life history.

    Similarly for the general disruption caused by a major visit, while it’s good to be concerned about that in general principal – I’ve never seen that be a particular source of increased ire between countries in real life.

    This India trip seems to be a very good thing on a lot of levels, not the least of which is a very solid showing of support for India to have a permanent seat on the US Council. Having a major visit also helps to soften some of the impact of unpopular actions – human nature appreciates the personal touch many times and statements made on site will often be accepted in a much better manner than statements issued through official channels from 10,000 miles away.

    For example, the visit appears (too early to tell for sure) to have softened some of the reaction to US moves which benefit our exports at the expense of imports. (I’m thinking of the $600 billion T-bond purchase the Fed announced.) From what I’ve read in the news (for what that’s worth) the statements from India have been much less upset than statements from a lot of other countries even though India will feel a good chunk of any dollar devaluation which may occur.

    I can’t say with 100% certainty that the President’s trip is directly responsible for that, but I would lay good odds on the trip being a big part of that.

  • Pete

    Ach ! A hoax! I guess the “bomb-proof tunnel” should have been the tipoff.

  • Pete

    Ach ! A hoax! I guess the “bomb-proof tunnel” should have been the tipoff.


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