27 Hour Gulf Avoidance Jaunt, Doesn’t Pass The Smell Test

Family vacations have become something of a challenge these days.  Tough choices are required during new economic times and difficult working times.

A new job can mean vacation days that haven’t been earned yet. A second job can present work conflicts with the already scheduled vacation at the first job. And with job cuts around every corner, even the safely employed may eye those much-needed and cherished vacation days as a temptation best resisted, if it will help you to hang on to that job security.

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Finances are tight.  The much dreamed of and long-planned for cruises and tours have moved to a back burner with the heat turned off. Flying for fun has become an unaffordable luxury for many.

Going local is a growing trend. It cuts both travel time and travel expenses. Exotic locales have become local discoveries. A weekend get away to a local motel with pool and nearby family attractions maybe the best many can do this summer.

So no surprise then, that the First Family faced a few hard choices to make on their whistle-stop promotional jaunt to the Gulf region this weekend. First they had to scrape together a whopping 27 hours for their visit to the Gulf. No easy task when their calendars were already brimming with campaigning, fundraising and vacation plans including a 10-day return visit to Martha’s Vineyard.

Of course, the Gulf is a tricky place to visit these days.  The Gulf community isn’t just worried, they are angry.  There was a possibility the First Family might actually come face-to-face with those angry and worried people.  If not handled properly, it could have resulted in something neither fun nor a vacation and far from giving support.  But leadership is made in moments like these.

For most Americans, the First Family’s Gulf vacation was about not only showing skeptical Americans that the Gulf is truly safe.  But also showing Gulf residents, fishermen, drill workers, and business owners that the American people support them.  Letting the Gulf community know that we too are worried about their health, homes, families, jobs and finances.

If location was the critical choice for the First Family’s visit to the Gulf, avoidance became the central theme.  So strategy becomes — Go to Florida.  Avoid the hardest hit region.  Avoid the angry people.  Avoid the 2 million barrels of oil that have not magically disappeared.   Despite BP’s promises, governments assurances, and media parroting.

After all, could President Obama proclaim during his visit that the Gulf Coast beaches clean, safe and open for business if the oil started showing up in all the obvious places — like “clean” beaches and “safe” waters.

And could the Whitehouse post pictures of the President and his daughter swimming in “safe” waters, if “gulf” waters are not suitable for wadding, playing, or swimming?

From Suzanne Goldenberg at The Gaurdian:

… John Kessler, of Texas A&M University, who led a National Science Foundation on-site study of the spill. “The fact is that 50% to 75% of the material that came out of the well is still in the water. It’s just in a dissolved or dispersed form.”

Vacation answer — Go to Florida.  Avoid “gulf” waters.  Swim in bay waters.  But exclude photographers and journalist from documenting the swim.

From Guy Adams at The Independent:

The official picture was intended to provide evidence that the region’s beaches are back to normal. Yet it soon emerged that the private beach on which it was taken, off Alligator Point in St Andrew Bay, north-west Florida, isn’t technically in the gulf.

Could the President encourage Gulf visitors and proclaim the area “open for business”, if dispersants are still being sprayed to sink the oil that hasn’t disappeared?

Vacation answer — Go to Florida.  Avoid dispersant areas.  Avoid discussing the accuracy of “sniff” testing seafood for oil and the hazards of having no test for the dispersants in food.  Ignore that  oil and toxic dispersants found on recently opened Mississippi shrimping and oyster grounds.

It is not surprising that the public has shown considerable interest in the First Family’s summer fun this year. After all, the President and his family are a very visible symbol of American families and the American way of life. Commenting on summer vacations is a time honor American tradition. It is how we greet each other as the dog days of summer roll around and we head back to classrooms, homes, and the dwindling few convene around water coolers.

But will the American people like what the First Family’s Gulf Vacation says about Americans?  Do we care that the First Family went for the least amount of time they could call a get-away. Or that they traveled to the least affected area that they could reasonable call the gulf. And that the water they swam in wasn’t really the Gulf, but a bay.  Will Americans feel like the President gave the Gulf community their and our full support?

And more importantly, has the First Family succeeded in convincing Americans and the world that the Gulf’s waters, beaches and seafood are now safe?

Guess I’m not the only one who thinks the First Family’s Gulf Avoidance Vacation didn’t pass the sniff test!


It seems the Obama Family can’t catch a break on the vacation front.  They go from the oil and dispersant filled waters of the Gulf last weekend to fecal coliform contaminated waters of Martha’s Vineyard this weekend.

From Will bacteria count beach Barack Obama? by Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa at the Boston Hearld:

Welcome to Martha’s Vineyard, Mr. President - but don’t go in the water!

President Obama, who took a plunge in the Gulf last week to show Americans it was safe to swim the oil spill-plagued area, arrived on this supposedly pristine island yesterday in the midst of a rash of bacteria-induced beach closings.

Portions of Tisbury Great Pond, the salt-water lagoon fronting the first family’s vacation estate Blue Heron Farm, were closed earlier this week due to high levels of enterococci, an indicator that the water is contaminated with fecal coliform bacteria. Ew.

High levels of enterococci can cause skin irritation, vomiting or diarrhea in swimmers. Which could ruin anyone’s vacation!

I guess President Obama’s Martha’s Vineyard vacation won’t pass the sniff test either.


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