With Obama, perhaps perception is reality - East Valley Tribune: Columnists

With Obama, perhaps perception is reality

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Posted: Friday, August 13, 2010 3:15 am | Updated: 8:03 pm, Sun Aug 15, 2010.

We have all heard the old adage, “perception is reality.” The problem is that our president does not understand the meaning of this phrase.

Most realistic people believe that Barack Obama is a good person and that deep down, he truly loves this country. Some may even go as far as believing that Obama is a great leader. However, the biggest problem for the president is the perception that he is a weak leader.

First, let’s take the explosion onboard the oil rig Deepwater Horizon that killed 11 people and sent millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Most experts consider the accident the worst ecological and environmental disaster to impact the United States. It left tens of thousands — if not hundreds of thousands — of people unable to earn a living.

How did Obama respond to the Gulf crisis? Not only did it take him weeks to visit the oil-stricken region but he immediately placed a moratorium on offshore drilling that left thousands more unemployed. When the president finally graced Louisiana with his presence, his visits were no more than mere photo ops.

Then, when Obama’s leadership over the crisis came into question, he guaranteed us that he would not rest until the gushing well was capped and that he would place his boot on the neck of BP. However, it appears that Obama did just the opposite by spending countless hours on the golf course and entertaining his wife with expensive date nights in Manhattan. America didn’t witness his unrest over the catastrophe.

On one of Obama’s latest visits to the Gulf Coast region, we saw him enjoying seafood and listened to him encourage Americans to vacation in the region. He let us know that the food was safe and the beaches were open for business. However, did the president plan his next vacation in the Gulf? Nope! It was another lavish and expensive outing hobnobbing with the rich and famous at Martha’s Vineyard.

However, the president finally caved in under the pressure and scrutiny of the example he was setting for the rest of America. He announced that he and his family would vacation in the Gulf Coast region. I don’t know about you, but I expected the Obamas to plan on a few days in Louisiana, the hardest hit state. Instead, the Obamas will vacation in Florida, which will include campaign appearances by the Campaigner in Chief.

Now, let’s consider the First Lady’s expensive taxpayer vacation to Spain. The Obamas have been preaching sacrifice and fiscal discipline to Americans for months. We have been lectured that we must buckle down as America faces a potential double recession.

A great leader would live what he preaches. He would walk the talk. Not Obama, though. The president sent his wife and daughter to an expensive five-day Mediterranean vacation, where they got to meet Spain’s King Juan Carlos. With America facing tough economic times, we got stuck with the price tag of the First Lady’s much-needed vacation that is estimated to top more than $300,000. Of course, Mrs. Obama needed to stay at one of the most expensive resorts in the world.

However, the White House defended Michelle Obama by stating that she promised a close friend, who just lost her father, a vacation. That’s fine. For someone who just recently lost his father, I understand the need to get away. However, there are thousands of destinations in America that Mrs. Obama could have taken her friend to. Imagine, she could have pumped that expensive vacation fund into our own economy.

Is this good leadership? Perhaps, perception is reality.

Michael Weinstein is co-host of the “The Mike & Winey Show” heard at 7 a.m. Saturdays on KKNT (960 AM) or on the web at www.kknt960.com.

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