by Darrell Castle
Constitution Party Vice-Chairman
Legend holds that during one of the famines that swept across France during the reign of Louis XVI, his Queen, Marie Antoinette, upon being told that the peasants had no bread, replied, “Let them eat cake.”
That phrase has acquired symbolic importance over the years when used to demonstrate the complete lack of concern and selfishness of the upper classes toward working people.
“Let them eat cake,” then, is an appropriate way to describe the current state visit of the Obama family to India and other nations in Asia.
Not since the days of Roman emperors has a head of state traveled with such pomp and grand expense. The entourage was transported on 40 airplanes, including 3 Boeing 747’s. The 3 presidential helicopters had to be disassembled, loaded on airplanes and reassembled in India. It took 6 armored cars to transport the presidential party on the ground when they were not occupying one of the 800 hotel rooms they rented, including the entire Taj Mahal hotel. That particular hotel, along with a couple of others, was the scene of a bloody terrorist attack in which 171 people were killed a few months ago. Thousands of Secret Service and other security personnel provided security for the president as he was watched by dedicated satellite 24 hours per day. The visit even required a fleet of ships to provide security off-shore.
The estimated cost of the 10-day trip for a bankrupt nation is $200 million per day.
I don’t object to the president and his family being protected and kept safe on a state visit, even when it is done with excess, as this visit appears to be. I’m sure the president doesn’t tell the Secret Service what they can and can’t do to protect him, but he does have control over who goes and who doesn’t. He did not have to travel with 152 members of his administration.
I thought of the Marie Antoinette quote when I saw the president and his wife dancing and touring obviously happy and going the extra mile to portray opulence to the world, and especially to the Indian people. I wondered about the president’s sense of modesty and propriety. Doesn’t he know that his nation is at war in at least 3 admitted countries and many other ones that are not admitted? He apparently does not see the need to tone down the strutting just out of respect for the nation’s dead.
Back at home, more than 42 million people subsist on food stamps. The number of people not in the labor force has set all time records for 14 consecutive months. Twenty-one percent of American children live below the poverty line. Twenty-eight percent of American households have at least one member looking for full time work. Almost 15 million people owe more on their homes than they are worth. One out of six Americans is now enrolled in at least one federal anti-poverty program. The president of the nation’s 10th largest bank, BB&T, recently was quoted as saying that the bankruptcy of the U.S. is a mathematical certainty.
I submit that all of these things and many others should serve as evidence that a time of moderation, restraint, and introspection, if not sack cloth and ashes, would be appropriate. People are aware of the condition of our country and they just gave the president a reminder of that on November 2nd.
What, then, has been the presidential reaction to the impoverishment of the American people? Let them eat cake.