Friday, Oct. 09, 2009

Date Night

The problem started with a promise. During his long campaign for the White House, Obama vowed to his wife that when the race was over, he would take her to New York City to see a Broadway show. In May, four months into his presidency, Obama delivered — and triggered a hailstorm of criticism for his trouble. For their weekend foray, the Obamas flew to the Big Apple aboard a Gulfstream 500 before boarding a Marine helicopter to Manhattan, where their motorcade whisked them to dinner at the tony Blue Hill Restaurant in Greenwich Village and then to see the August Wilson play Joe Turner's Come and Gone. Though onlookers packed the streets to catch a glimpse of the First Couple, critics bellowed that the pricey trip — which some observers estimated at around $72,000 — was a profligate indulgence, particularly with automaker GM teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. "Have a great Saturday evening — even if you're not jetting off somewhere at taxpayer expense," a Republican National Committee statement read. The White House declined to estimate the cost of the trip, though reports circulated that Obama paid for the dinner and theater tickets himself.