As candidate Obama explained in a campaign speech in Portland on May 18, 2008, it would be tough for him to get together with the world’s leaders and establish international controls on human behavior if we continue to carry on with our individualistic hankerings to eat cheeseburgers and drive things that are twice as big as the SmartCar.
“We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times and then just expect that other countries are going to say okay,” he proclaimed. “That's not leadership. That's not going to happen.”
By Obama’s definition of U.S. “leadership,” we get a seat at the table with the world planners if we bow to their demands in terms of what we buy and how we live, if we downsize in accordance with their centralized planning, if we admit our gluttonous faults and send reparations for all the effluence and global warming that our materialistic successes have caused over the past century.
At the White House, however, it’s a different picture. Instead of guilt, global consciousness, and keeping the thermostat at an Earth-friendly 60 degrees, it seems that Obama likes it hot at the Executive Mansion.
“The capital flew into a bit of a tizzy when, on his first full day in the White House, President Obama was photographed in the Oval Office without his suit jacket,” reported the New York Times on January 29. “There was, however, a logical explanation: Mr. Obama, who hates the cold, had cranked up the thermostat.”
“He’s from Hawaii, OK?” explained Mr. Obama’s senior advisor, David Axelrod. “He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there.”
Al Gore should calculate how many extra polar bears are likely to drown if Obama keeps it hot enough for four years to grow orchids in all 132 rooms of the White House, plus the 35 bathrooms.
It’s the same with food. We’re supposed to cut back while Obama is jetting in Wagyu steaks from Japan. The good stuff, the result of cattle bred for generations to be genetically predisposed to intense marbling, goes for $300 a pound.
For the accompanying vegetable, the First Lady has a knack for simultaneously maximizing her carbon footprint while picking out the perfect bunch of politically correct kale.
Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank described one such trip:
Let’s say you’re preparing dinner and you realize with dismay that you don’t have any certified organic Tuscan kale. What to do? Here’s how Michelle Obama handled this very predicament Thursday afternoon:
The Secret Service and the D.C. police brought in three dozen vehicles and shut down H Street, Vermont Avenue, two lanes of I Street and an entrance to the McPherson Square Metro station. They swept the area in front of the Department of Veterans Affairs with bomb-sniffing dogs and installed magnetometers in the middle of the street, put up barricades to keep pedestrians out, and took positions with binoculars atop trucks. Though the produce stand was only a block or so from the White House, the First Lady hopped into her armored limousine and pulled into the market amid the wail of sirens.
The whole thing reminds me of when Forbes ranked the allegedly egalitarian Fidel Castro well above Queen Elizabeth in personal wealth. Castro responded by threatening a lawsuit.
Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.