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My Favourite Planet > Blogs > Edwin Drood's Column > August 2010
back Edwin Drood's Column
10 August 2010
Obama girls rule!
In which Drood reflects on the sagacity of Benjamin Disraeli, the misfortune of those
who live their lives in a barometer of public opinion and considers Malaga to be less
than top notch, which leads him to wonder what all the fuss is about.

I’m going to keep this short. At the beginning of her long reign, Queen Victoria was unpopular, considered by many to be unconcerned with the realities of state, distant, foreign and wasteful. In order to rally and unite the nation at a time of expanding Empire and sabre-rattling abroad, it was thought best by successive governments to create a loveable, respectable and popular monarchy. Victoria thus became the first media celebrity of the modern era and the first modern monarch. All who have reigned since her have undergone similar government sponsored grooming and image makeovers. The people own the monarchy: Buck House is our house. Ever since those sagacious 19th Century British prime ministers’ (most notably Russell and Disraeli) effectively created the modern idea of royalty as “first family” by doing everything to popularize an exemplary, shop-window monarchy of dutiful wife and adored husband, complete with freshly minted “traditions” (the trooping of the colour, the changing of the guard) and “values”, and in whose image the entire Victorian era was then cast by a complicit press (right down to the holiday places ‘they’ visited, the dogs ‘they’ preferred, the whiskey ‘they’ served their male guests, the biscuits ‘they’ ate with their cheese, etc.) we have lived with this idea that the lives of royalty somehow belong to us, that they owe us their privacy in exchange for our fealty.

America’s attitude to its “first families” has taken this several steps further. From “Camelot” and the White House makeover to Chelsea Clinton’s wedding, from Nancy Reagan’s china to George Bush’s dislike of broccoli, everything gets dissected and reviewed, scored and judged according to the climate and criteria of the times. The climate of the times currently finds us in a period of austerity. Thus everything to do with the Obama White House is expected to be as austere as the era we apparently live in.

Poor Michelle Obama (you’re starting to notice a pattern here: I consistently defend the Obama “girls”), spending a few days at the beach in Malaga with her second daughter is way, way beyond the appropriate threshold of budgetary frugality expected of America’s royalty in a time of economic woe. How could she do such a thing? There were so many austere options open: a weekend retreat at a monastery, a day or two at a youth work camp or a sleepover for Sasha at a nearby refugee centre ... but no, that wicked, wanton woman has to go to a (shock, horror!) LUXURY hotel, foot the bill HERSELF (but only after subjecting it to a full-scale security audit at TAXPAYER’S EXPENSE) waltz out in the evening wearing a LOW-CUT DRESS (has she no shame? some folks have lost their farms!) ... and then have the nerve to take her daughter and a couple of her daughter’s friends (wait for it ...) SHOPPING using HER OWN MONEY!

All this at a time when good people are finding it HARD to roll enough CASH together to buy the new iPhone, a time when thousands have been LAID OFF for building cars NO ONE WANTS TO BUY, when couples with no reliable credit history are being REFUSED MORTGAGES!

Many journalists seem to find Malaga “ritzy”, but there’s places far Ritzier than that. Malaga is strictly meat and two veg to the jet set. Others think Michelle should take her girls to American holiday destinations beloved of presidents (and thus cheaper to secure) like Martha’s Vineyard (yeah, right! now you can’t get much posher than that), thus mixing the right economic salad with a bit of frugal green-stuff and a “buy American” dressing. This humble author thinks everyone should leave the dear lady alone to make her own decisions about how, where, when and for how much she should treat her kids to a bit of mummy/daughter time. After all, she does happen to be married to the most powerful man on the planet. If she wants to holiday on the moon, it’s alright with me. And as for the gigantic security op: if security had been slightly less than perfect and something terrible had happened to Sasha ... we would never have heard the end of what a careless and selfish mother Michelle Obama was.

© Edwin Drood, 10 August 2010
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