Obama's "$200 Million A Day" India Trip Exposed! Then Debunked! But... Questions Remain!
As you may have heard, President Obama has made a trip to India, and it's costing taxpayers a bazillion dollars because he brought the entire Seventh Fleet and thousands of campaign contributors.
Oops, sorry, that's not true -- it's only $200 million a day and he only took 34 warships. Oops, that's also not true (or as the Wall Street Journal put it, "demonstrably incorrect") -- there's no tally yet, but no one who actually knows anything about such things (like the Pentagon) will credit the figures.
Several rightbloggers got on the $200 million story quick, and have not corrected to this day. Others, to their credit, did. But because it's Obama, and because they are who they are, there was plenty else to complain about. (For example, did you know Obama brought a teleprompter? Haw!)
The publicly-reported reasons for the Obama trip had to do with India's relations with Pakistan and with trade agreements with the U.S. -- the sort of thing you expect a Leader of the Free World to do. (And who knows what else was discussed? This may surprise you, but the government doesn't always tell us these things.)
Doesn't matter: The conservative brain trust started touting the alleged trip cost when the end of the election left them some free time. GOP Congresswoman Michele Bachmann -- she of the Obama re-education camps -- used the $200 million figure on Anderson Cooper's November 5 show. Glenn Beck said the whole trip would cost $2 billion. "Is that true? I don't know!" added Beck, a rhetorical device in this context meaning "It doesn't matter whether it's true or not." Anyway, said Beck, the trip was "unnecessary... a ceremonial trip, but zero value so far... You can pick up the phone and do a lot of that stuff!" (It was later reported that one of the trip's results was $10 billion worth of export deals.) Beck also claimed to fear for the President's life ("I don't believe the president is listening to the Secret Service").
Also, Drudge, Fox News, etc. Rightbloggers grabbed it and ran.
"800 Rooms, 34 Warships, 40 Planes, 3,000 People, $200 Million a Day," declared HolyCoast. "India on $200 Million a Day," reported Moonbattery (also: "34 US warships, including an aircraft carrier, will be patrolling off the Mumbai coast"). "At a cost of $200 million. Per day. Fucker," fumed Urban Grounds.
Pajamas Media put up a video in which a bunch of conservative funnymen extemporized on "India on $200 a Day" for eight and a half long, long minutes. "Obama's actually exporting his ego!" said one. "I want to see the President in M.C. Hammer pants," said another. "I have to say [Obama's] a blight on Harvard Law School," said another.
One comic quoted a commenter at The Lonely Conservative, who "did the math" and found that "200 million a day divided by the 3000 people, check out that number, $66, 666.66!" He added, ironically in retrospect, "you can't make this stuff up!"
Jammie Wearing Fool demanded to know why they didn't do the whole thing by teleconference. "If the security for this trip is that fraught with danger," he said, "the prudent thing to do would be to call it off and invite whoever it is you are going to meet to come to America. I am sure it would be damn sight cheaper then the estimated $200 million a day this trip is reported to be costing us."
"$2 billion dollars for yet another vacation, while our country struggles with debt," cried Joshuapundit. "We no longer have a president, but a clueless, uncaring Bourbon king...Louis XIV redux." "King George could never have imagined how good future kings would have it," said theblogprof.
We must award some sort of special prize to Project World Awareness, who wondered, "Is there going to be a false flag nuclear explosion on November 6 2010?... All I know is that Obama's upcoming trip to India is about as real as a 3 dollar bill,and SOMETHING is going on..."
This spun off from a story making the Ron Paulite rounds, to wit: "Obama is leaving the country just after the election. He is taking his wife and kids as well as 3,000 other people for this India trip. They are taking 40 planes, armored cars, helicopters, security forces, a blank check book, and now 34 warships and a 1 km long air-conditioned bomb-proof tunnel to be assembled in one hour. They are planning on spending $200 million per day. At least that is what they are admitting to..."
(Project World Awareness includes an interesting video which ties The Simpsons to the impending flight of Obama, as well as 9/11. Scully, Mulder, and Nic Cage are there too!)
Pundit & Pundette retracted, but retained another complaint: that the Obama retinue would include "200 CEOs." The real scandal is that "it's not clear who's paying for tab for the 200." Also, "Why isn't the 'next generation' using technology instead of costly, risky, old-school travel for their meeting?" Plus, they quote another guy, summits are "the ultimate empty gesture," so even if everyone went dutch, it's still a big cock-up.
Weasel Zippers also adopted this approach. "They can't get into details 'due to security reasons,'" he scoffed. "(It would appear the coconut removal, monkey towers and air-conditioned, over ground, bomb-proof tunnel are still a go.)"
Oh yeah, the coconuts. The city of Mumbai removed some of them from trees so they wouldn't fall while Obama was visiting the Gandhi Museum there. (Apparently it's a hazard.) Some rightbloggers assumed that America was paying for it, as part of "the cost of moving warships off the coast of India for protection and hiring people to knock down coconuts." "Is there a reason why they can't just steer him clear of the trees with the coconuts in them?" complained Mocking Words.
I Hate The Media saw a deeper meaning: "You may remember how liberals taunted Michael Steele by calling him a coconut when he ran for the U.S. Senate in Maryland," they said. "Luckily, Michael Steele is not part of the President's entourage." (Oddly, American Digest added, "In other dubious news, the only coconut in Mumbai will probably be in the presidential motorcade.")
Big Journalism's Dana Loesch had a nice angle: "White House, MSM Unable to Refute $200 Million-a-Day Mumbai Trip." That is, Media Matters asked the White House and they responded, "The numbers reported in this article have no basis in reality." Aha, but Media Matters didn't ask the question Loesch would have if anyone listened to her, which was, "If you deny that the White House is spending $200 million a day then how much exactly is the White House spending?" (The italics presumably indicate the sharp tone of voice with which she would have asked it.) Had the White House been serious, it would have produced emails from Travelocity and Hotels.com authenticating the cost of the trip. Also Obama's birth certificate.
That's right, dance, you monster!
Plus Obama and his wife danced with schoolchildren at an event. Rightbloggers didn't like it. "When many Americans are seeing their jobs disappearing to a lower standard of living labor force in India and Asia," solemnly intoned FullosseousFlap, "I don't the vision of our President dancing on a taxpayer funded junket can really be viewed as appropriate." "Nero Fiddled. Obama Danced," said Kingsjester. "I'm surprised that he didn't bring Chubby Checker along with him for this photo op. Heck, he brought everybody else."
Students asked Obama questions at a town hall, and his answers were an outrage. One asked, "What is your opinion of Jihad?" and Obama answered, "Well, the phrase Jihad has a lot of meanings within Islam, and is subject to a lot of different interpretations." He went on to say, "some extremists have distorted its meaning to justify their means. I think one of the challenges that we face is how do we isolate those who have these distorted notions of religious war." But Freedom's Lighthouse didn't listen past the first line. "What a missed opportunity to condemn 'Jihad,'" thundered FL, "and to call on Muslim leaders around the world to join him in condemning it. But that might hurt someone's feelings." And isn't hurting feelings the whole point of foreign visits?
"NOTE HOW OBAMA DANCED AROUND THE QUESTION ABOUT JIHAD," said No Quarter. Wow, a twofer!
At this writing there are some dead-enders still going on about the $200 million, like World Net Daily's celebrity author Pat Boone, who insists "it was so!" despite the debunking of "liberal-tinted Snopes." (You didn't know the respected Snopes.com site was a liberal front? Get with the program, sheeples!)
But who cares? This trip is soon over, and then Obama will do something else about which they can make shit up.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.