Have you noticed? Lately, Michelle Obama has been wearing sensible clothes.
She’s making the rounds at various Obama 2012 campaign events and promoting her “Let’s Move” and military families support agenda wearing something the rest of us would wear.
She appeared on NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Tuesday night, February 1, wearing a J.Crew skirt.
She and the first family have opted to skip their annual copious Super Bowl party which is usually much buzzed about.
Just saying, the First Family could be responding to past criticism that in times of economic strife, it may be more politically prudent to tone down personal spending and limit outwardly being rich. Tough call for rich people to make, but the American public is watching and taking note.
During the past year, there have been numerous instances where the Obamas and those vying to take their place have been vilified for having wealth and for saying things, going places and purchasing items like other wealthy people. The only thing is their stature doesn’t allow them to be like the rest. For them, exhibiting any outward signs of their affluence is a political liability. Here are the 10 recent instances where that’s happened this political cycle:
1. The Rain in Spain. Michelle Obama takes a girls’ vacation to Marbella, Spain with daughter Sasha, a couple of friends and their daughter, all who paid for their accommodations. Critics were quick to point out that the use of Air Force Two, secret service agents, official vehicles and staff cost tax payers money even though other first ladies have vacationed before. Perhaps because the day before the trip 131, 000 jobs had been lost, Obama watchers took note that the hotel room they stayed in cost $2,000 a night for the 5-day trip. There were several posh celeb and socialite studded events she attended during the trip.
2. Wanna bet? During a December Republican primary debate, while responding to a Rick Perry attack on elements of the Massachusetts health care law Mitt Romney passed, Mitt challenged Perry to a $10,000 bet. Most people usually bet a buck or two, but when you roll like that, $10K is chump change.
3. Praise the Lord. While attending Christmas church service at the Kanehoe Bay Marine Base in Hawaii, onlookers noticed that Michelle Obama was wearing a designer Sophie Theallet dress – that would’ve cost $2,000 in 2009 when she purchased it. She was also seen in a $950 Comme des Garcons skirt during an informal and low-key gathering. While admired by most, those who do not care for the first lady are quick to call her out for having expensive taste. Never mind that previous first ladies also dressed in designer originals as well. But, hey, it’s a recession.
4. High Priced Hooking. Newt Gingrich tries to explain away the millions his consulting firm received from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae during the 2000s by saying he only provided counsel as a historian. After that, historians nationwide called the mortgage lending giants for gigs.
5. You’re too Cute for Camp David. A jazz-loving, basketball playing, renaissance man with an eclectic taste in music doesn’t mesh well on the ranch, hence President Obama’s preference to spend summer vacation at the $50,000 a week rental at a 28-acre beachfront Blue Heron Farm in Chilmark, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. It was the ire of some back home who lambasted his choice while the country was barely in economic recovery, yet.
6. Pennies from Heaven. Chump change: After releasing his tax returns, Mitt Romney tries to explain away his sources of income adding that “I get speakers fees from time to time” he said. Nothing much, he added. It was later revealed that “nothing” was actually $374,000, the amount of money Mitt made in 2010 for making nine speeches. That amount is seven times the salary of the average American.
7. Celebration Times. President Obama has a lavish celebrity-studded birthday party featuring celebrities on August 4, 2011 when he turns 50. It enticed Fox Nation to call it a “Hip Hop Barbecue” and draw out the usual coded language to elicit emotional response from anyone who may have disdain for this new culture of folks entering the White House.
8. Time of my Life. During a campaign stop in Iowa, while emotionally talking about his wife Ann’s challenges when she started suffering the effects of Multiple Sclerosis, Mitt told the audience: “We considered whether to put an elevator in to help her out.” He says the experience was one of the toughest and most challenging of his life.
9. Here’s a Note for your Troubles. Mitt Romney felt empathy for an unemployed Black woman who says a voice from above told her to follow Romney’s campaign bus. He spotted her $50 for her troubles, and a campaign staffer chipped in $150, reportedly to help pay her light bill. It conjured up images of Daddy Warbuck and some pundits called the gesture racist.
10. Of Swiss mice and Caymen. After initially hemming and hawing, Mitt Romney finally released his tax returns and during a conference call about it, his advisors revealed that he had $3million in cash stored away in a Swiss bank account that was closed in 2010 when Mitt launched his campaign. Word also got out that Romney and his wife owned a trust in a Cayman Island account. Both locations are known as tax shelters for the very wealthy looking to escape U.S. tax liability.
Certainly, being rich isn’t a deal breaker. As the Washington Post recently pointed out, Americans have embraced several famous wealthy politicians like the Kennedys, the Bushes and the Rockefellers. The difference perhaps is in good times, people perhaps are less likely to be offended by their riches. Nonetheless, bootstrap politicians like Michael Bloomberg who was once a parking lot attendant and Herman Cain, a self-made millionaire, are tolerated and embraced more.
The way to make your money and not hamper political aspirations may depend on the times and how sincere you are explaining it away if needed.