Obama Heads to Asia, Breaks Foreign Travel Record
Posted by Mark Knoller
...Foreign travel by American presidents is a relatively new practice. No sitting U.S. president left the country until Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. He made a single foreign outing: a 3-day visit to Panama in November of that year to inspect construction of the Panama Canal.
First Year Foreign Travel By U.S. Presidents
# of foreign trips # of nations visited
Barack Obama (so far) 7 16
George W. Bush 5 11
Bill Clinton 2 3
George H.W. Bush 7 14
Ronald Reagan 4 2
Jimmy Carter 2 3
Source: Office of the Historian, U.S. Department of State
On to India....
It's understandable that Obama wants to be on the other side of the world when results from the mid-term elections are being realized. But, in a time of hardship for so many Americans, one can only onder what the extravagance of his November 6th trip to India will cost. Here are a few highlights:
- The President has booked all 570 rooms, banquet rooms, and restaurants at the 5 start Taj Mahal hotel.
- In addition to the Taj Mahal Hotel, 125 rooms at the Taj President, and 80 to 90 rooms at each the Grand Hyatt and Oberoi Hotels have been booked for his additional entourage.
- In addition to Air force one, two jumbo jets and military figher escorts will be usd to ferry his staff.
- 45 cars will be used in his motorcade.
- Because the Taj Mahal Hotel is seasde, the U.S. Navy will be patrolling the waters out to 330 km off the coast.
- The administration has booked the entire India National Center for the Performing Arts to meet with business leaders.
- The security detail will be HUGE.
- Michelle is going to meet with 'commercial sex workers'. Why, I don't know. But the additional cost of her security to enter th seediest areas of Mumbai must be quite a bit.
- The distruption of life and traffic in Mumbai will cost the locals plenty.
Read the article from the Economic Times here:
"US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle will be extremely busy in Mumbai, upon landing on November 6 for a two day India visit. As the world’s most powerful man and his wife zip around the city visiting the 26/11 memorial on Marine Drive, the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), Mani Bhawan and other locations in south Mumbai, the security obviously will be water-tight .
Adding to the Obamas’ busy schedule is Michelle’s likely visit to Kamathipura, where she will meet commercial sex workers on the invitation of an NGO. The highprofile visit is likely to inconvenience the citizens, as there could be a complete clampdown on traffic on some main roads of south Mumbai and sanitisation of buildings flanking them.
The Obamas will stay at the Taj Mahal Hotel, and his itinerary practically means Marine Drive will be shut for vehicular traffic on the day of the President’s visit, while buildings flanking it will be sanitised with security personnel manning them until Obama has left the place. Same would be the case with Obama’s visit to Mani Bhawan and Michelle going to Kamathipura.
An officer with the security establishment said, “Several other arterial roads in south Mumbai will also see restricted traffic movement, with tight security all around. The Obamas are not expected to schedule any engagements in the night due to security reasons.”
Since Obama is expected to arrive in the afternoon on November 6, and will travel by road to the Taj Mahal Hotel, the entire stretch from airport to the hotel will be under heavy security. The officer said, “There will be no vehicular movement on Western Express Highway at that time. Traffic on roads leading up to the highway will also be stopped. All buildings flanking the entire stretch will be sanitised. However, there is no threat from the snipers as the President will travel in a bullet-proof car with 4.5-inch thick sheets, which are impenetrable for any gun.”
Obama’s personal security staff itself will be huge, and it has already started making its own arrangements in Mumbai. “A team of secret service agents has already arrived, and has surveyed the areas of his stay and the roads and places on his itinerary,” the officer said.
To ensure fool-proof security, the President’s team has booked the entire the Taj Mahal Hotel, including 570 rooms, all banquets and restaurants. Since his security contingent and staff will comprise a huge number, 125 rooms at Taj President have also been booked, apart from 80 to 90 rooms each in Grand Hyatt and The Oberoi hotels. The NCPA, where the President is expected to meet representatives from the business community, has also been entirely booked.
The officer said, “Obama’s contingent is huge. There are two jumbo jets coming along with Air Force One, which will be flanked by security jets. There will be 30 to 40 secret service agents, who will arrive before him. The President’s convoy has 45 cars, including the Lincoln Continental in which the President travels.”
Since Obama will stay in a hotel that is on sea front, elaborate coastal security arrangements have been made by the US Navy in consonance with the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard. “There will be US naval ships, along with Indian vessels , patrolling the sea till about 330-km from the shore. This is to negate the possibility of a missile being fired from a distance,” the officer said.
The President will be accompanied by his chefs, not because he would not like to savour Indian cuisine, but to ensure his food is not spiked.
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are scheduled to land in Mumbai on November 6."
President Obama has spent all or part of 26 days "on vacation" during his first year as president, according to CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller.
Knoller, who has covered every president since Gerald Ford and is known for keeping detailed records on presidential travel, counts the following among President Obama’s "vacations" in 2009:
■A four-day holiday weekend in Chicago in February where the president played some basketball and treated First Lady Michelle Obama to a Valentine’s Day dinner date.
■An eight-day stay with his family at a rented house on Martha’s Vineyard in August.
■ A trip out west to the U.S. states of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Arizona that combined both business and pleasure. The president held town hall meetings on health care during the trip. And he went fly fishing and took trips to Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon with his wife and two daughters.
■An 11-day stay in Hawaii where the president and his family celebrated Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Obama Has Shot 41 Rounds of Golf as President
by Keith Koffler on July 16, 2010, 3:30 pm
President Barack Obama has played a remarkable 41 rounds of golf since becoming president, easily outpacing his predecessor and possibly damaging his ability to portray himself in 2012 as a populist advocate of average folks.
With the excursions lasting on average at least five hours, the president has devoted a total of more than 200 hours to golf, not counting time spent on the White House putting green. That’s the equivalent of twenty five eight-hour work days, or five work weeks spent smacking golf balls.
The former community organizer’s 41 trips around the links – a standard of recreational activity well beyond the budgets of most Americans – compares to only 24 total outings for former President George W. Bush, according to statistics compiled by White House chronicler Mark Knoller of CBS News. Bush, whose golf outings were used to help deride him as a callow, lazy, rich boy, played his 24th and last round on Oct. 13, 2003, saying he was ending the practice out of respect for the families of Americans killed in Iraq.
Since the April 20 explosion that killed 11 rig workers and started the Gulf oil spill, Obama has teed up seven times, according to White House Dossier’s count. This includes back to back sessions April 23 and 24 while on vacation at the Grove Park Resort & Spa in Asheville, NC, just days after the crisis began.
Obama’s focus on golf borders on obsession. Startled reporters follow him out to the course in the motorcade in the broiling Washington heat and then wait in the air conditioning while he puts in 18 holes. Rarely does he play any less.
On June 19, he dragged the 67 year old Vice President Biden onto the course for a sweltering 18 holes, calling into question whether he was trying to commit murder-by-golf in order to free the 2012 VP slot up for Hillary.
From a period stretching from April 3 to May 22 of this year, the president went golfing eight of nine weekends. WOULD YOUR WIFE LET YOU DO THAT?? WOULD YOU LET YOUR HUSBAND? Michelle, what gives?
He went out only once in June when, with the Gulf of Mexico slowly becoming the new U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve and accusations of presidential inattention at their height, White House image counselors appeared to think the golf needed scaling back. But he’s back with a vengeance, having made his way out on the course both weekends so far this month.
Since he’s officially on vacation this weekend in Bar Harbor Maine, there appears to be little holding him back from heading out to the greens at least once.
While on the course, Obama for the most part likes to keep it nice and light, often playing with a youngish crowd. No deep discussions of policy on the links.
One of his companions on nearly every outing is Marvin Nicholson, the affable, White House trip director. Nicholson, a former “body man” to Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), is the perfect guy for getting away from it all, having worked as a golf caddy, a bartender, and in a windsurfing shop – where he met Kerry.
Also generally on hand is David Katz, a former Obama campaign photographer.
Emphatically not invited for the most part are members of Congress or senior White House aides.
The White House is of course sensitive to the awkward look of the whole thing. A search of of the word “golf” on the White House page or the photo sharing site Flickr brings back only nine official White House photo results, three of which are neither of Obama nor golf. A search for “basketball,” the everyman’s game, brings back 39 photos.
But who wants to be the White House official to tell the president to cut back on golf? Somebody with another job offer, one would presume.