WASHINGTON (August 9) — Some commentators in the blogosphere and elsewhere have been critical of President Obama for celebrating his birthday and sending his family on vacation while the nation continues to struggle with the effects of the Great Recession.
“This dooshbag Obama,” said one blogger who seemed to speak for many, “shud focus on being prezident.”
Ever sensitive to criticism from political opponents, the White House reacted quickly yesterday. Press secretary Robert Gibbs issued a statement claiming that the Obamas’ weekend was considerably less fun and relaxing than was portrayed in the media.
“You know how it goes when you’ve been looking forward to something for a long time,” Gibbs told a nearly empty White House pressroom. “You make all these plans and then — boom — things start backfiring. You end up needing a vacation from your vacation. Am I right, people?”
Gibbs addressed criticism of First Lady Michelle Obama’s five-day trip to Spain with daughter Sasha. Mrs. Obama danced the flamenco, toured Andalusian castles, frolicked on Mediterranean beaches and met with the king and queen on Spain on the island of Majorca during her visit.
“She got her foot stomped on during the flamenco, it should be noted,” Gibbs said. “Those castles had a lot of stairs and the southern Spanish beaches don’t even have taffy. It was no picnic for her.”
“And don’t even get us started on the king and queen,” the press secretary continued. “They were a royal pain in the ass.”
Europeans reporters in Spain claimed that the two members of the First Family didn’t get along well with the hotel staff.
“The bellboys would want to help them with their luggage, saying they wouldn’t be able to handle the heavy suitcases,” said Jean Monsiere of Agence France. “The Obamas were all ‘yes we can, yes we can’. These workers earn their living from tips.”
Meanwhile, back in the states, the president reportedly spent Saturday golfing with friends, then played basketball with several current and former NBA players and had a cookout back at the White House.
“The golf outing at a suburban Washington course turned out to be a complete disaster,” Gibbs noted. “The foursome kept being hit by errant golf balls by Tiger Woods from that Ohio tournament. He’s still got his distance, but his accuracy is just awful.”
The basketball game in a gym at an army base near Washington also went poorly. Administration staffers had originally intended to blunt potential criticism of the all-star event by having young students from a nearby school for the blind attend the game as spectators. When Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was reminded that “blind” meant the kids couldn’t see, an audience of wounded soldiers was quickly assembled.
“The game proceeded smoothly until about halfway through,” Gibbs said. “Then LeBron James and Dwyane Wade called a timeout and said they needed a break ‘to take their talents to the men’s room,’ whatever that means. The president kept waiting for them to return, but they never did.”
The game finally continued with remaining stars like Carmelo Anthony, Magic Johnson, and some girl player they had rounded up to make the teams seem diverse. The athletes then retreated to the White House for Obama’s 49th birthday party, where attendees feasted on chicken, corn, iced tea and Gulf shrimp cooked up on the barbecue.
“Well, at least we tried to grill the Gulf shrimp,” Gibbs said. “But they were so oily they kept slipping into the fire.”
Gibbs acknowledged that he could understand some of the criticism coming in from the public, and said the president was prepared to make amends for the perceived insensitivity. But he didn’t want to rush to judgment and possibly ruin someone’s career, as happened in the Shirley Sherrod case.
“The president will literally take it upon himself to suffer for creating these misperceptions,” Gibbs said. “For the rest of the year, he will wear a shirt made of hair — a hairshirt, if you will — underneath his suit, so that he can suffer the same irritation, annoyance and pain being felt by those so hard-hit by our current economic woes.”