Saturday, April 24, 2010
You have to love the way the British press covers the United States:
Barack and Michelle Obama flew off for a brief holiday in North Carolina on Friday in what was seen as an attempt to take a "middle class" vacation more in keeping with those of ordinary Americans.
The Obamas spent their holidays last year in Hawaii and Martha's Vineyard, the Massachusetts island beloved of millionaire businessmen and celebrities.
However, following the US president's fresh attack on Wall Street greed this week, it was apparently deemed wiser for Mr Obama not to be pictured relaxing alongside the same bankers he has been lambasting.
The couple left Washington without their children for a long weekend in Asheville, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the west of the south-eastern state.
Although the area is a far cry from Martha's Vineyard, the Obamas are not exactly venturing into the back of beyond.
Asheville, a city of about 73,000 people, is home to the Vanderbilt family's lavish Biltmore estate and also has dozens of art galleries and elegant restaurants.
The White House said the Obamas will be staying at Asheville's most famous hotel, the Grove Park Inn, which claims that 10 presidents have stayed there.
On his last visit to Asheville, in October 2008, the final month of his presidential campaign, Mr Obama complained that he did not have the time to play golf on the hotel's private course, and vowed to return.
Next up, West Virginia. At the Greenbriar.
Of course, I do not mind a president with genuine populist tastes. See, e.g., the clearing of brush or chopping of wood that came to symbolize earlier presidential relaxation. One does get the sense, though, that this president will be back to Martha's Vinyard or its equivalent once he has accomplished his political point. And played golf at the Grove Park Inn.
I live in Asheville, right by the hotel. We have had a heck of a time getting to our home the last two days.
The Grove Park serves and $8 bottle of Budweiser. Not really middle class last time I checked.
We were late to my son's first T-ball game because Obama decided to play golf this morning.