Qu’ils mangent de la brioche, commonly translated as “Let them eat cake,” was not actually spoken by either French Queen Marie Antoinette or First Lady Michelle Obama although it could have been uttered by either. Like Marie, Michelle continues to display her propensity for excess and luxury while espousing, through word only, her compassion and understanding for the economic plight of the Nation and its citizens.
We need look no further than Christmas. You know, that time of year when we step outside our own wants and egos to fulfill the needs and wants of others. In theory, it’s a season of compassion, charitable giving and unity. Even when we fall far short of the theory and the ideal, finding ourselves caught up in the materialism of it all, we none-the-less stretch our minds, and our pocketbooks, to give what we hope others will delight in receiving. During tough economic times such as we presently find ourselves in, the stretching is all the more challenging and therefore, perhaps more heartfelt. We make do with less in order to give more.
Except for the Obamas.
A $4M taxpayer funded vacation to Hawaii in the face of looming economic crisis and 54 (yes I said 54!) Christmas trees throughout the White House is the First Couples way of saying not “Merry Christmas” but rather Qu’ils mangent de la brioche.
I do not begrudge a sitting President a Christmas break. Nor do I think the First Family should deny themselves a Christmas tree or two. After all, it’s a big house. And besides, there is nothing inspiring about your leader living like a peanut farmer in the most respected residence in the world. However, it’s a long way from peanut-farmer-austerity to the excesses of French nobility…or, in the instant case, those of the current inhabitants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Don’t even get me started on the President’s “my way or the highway” proposal to Congress to resolve the fiscal crisis that was delivered this week by an arrogant, self-impressed and unapologetic Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner. That’s the earlier hubris reference.
We have serious and mounting challenges to face. You and I are living the reality of those stresses every minute of every day. Yet those in whom we have placed both our confidence and the power to solve, or at least try to solve, these challenges are going about their lives arrogantly, uncompromisingly, and extravagantly.
Lately, I hear people attempting to compare President Obama to Abraham Lincoln. I will admit that both faced a fractured Nation. They are also both thin. Beyond that, I find the comparison laughable. If there is a leader with which to compare our current President I would suggest not Lincoln but Louis…as in Queen Marie’s husband, Louis XVI.
Louis started his reign as a popular monarch, but his indecisiveness led to the populace eventually perceiving him as part of the tyranny they sought to shake off. It was also the people’s belief that Louis was seeking foreign invasion as a means of political salvation. His credibility eventually undermined, his reign foreshadowed the end of the monarchy and likely birth of the Republic.
At the recent Soul Train Music Awards, actor Jamie Foxx referred to “…Our Lord and Savior Barack Obama.” I think that was a bit extreme. King Barack, and Queen Michelle, would have been just fine.
Perhaps with prayer and an awakened populace this too will end with (a return to) the Republic.