President Obama and his family are enjoying a delightful Christmas vacation with friends and family in the chief executive's home state of Hawaii.
Nobody questions a president's right or need to take take away from the White House, but an investigation by Hawaii Reporter has turned up some eye-opening information about the costs and other aspects of the Obama get-away.
Just consider these estimates on part of the costs of the latest Obama Hawaii trip:
* Mrs. Obama’s early flight to Hawaii: $63,000 (White House Dossier)
* Obama’s round trip flight to Hawaii: $1 million (GAO estimates)
* Housing in beachfront homes for Secret Service and Seals in Kailua ($1,200 a day for 14 days): $16,800
* Costs for White House staff staying at Moana Hotel: $134,400 ($400 per day for 24 staff) – excluding meals and other room costs
But that $1.47 million figure leaves out a number of signficant costs that simply could not be calculated by Hawaii Reporter:
* Rental of office building in Kailua on canal
* Security upgrades and additional phone lines.
* Costs for car rentals and fuel for White House staff staying at Moana Hotel (Secret Service imports most of the cars used here to escort the president).
* Surveillance before the president arrives.
* Travel costs for Secret Service and White House staff traveling ahead of the President.
White House spokesmen insist Obama's vacation expenses are in line with those of previous presidents, which may well be true, but, since the government refuses to disclose many important details about any presidential journey, nobody can know for sure.
There appear to be reasons to suspect the Obamas' trip could have been done for less, according to Hawaii Reporter.
"They could have chosen a less expensive and more secure place to stay such as a beachfront home on the Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station – just a two-minute drive away from the Kailuana Place property where they are now," according to Hawaii Reporter.
"The president visits the military base daily to workout, bowl with his kids or enjoy the more private beach there. He also could have stayed at a home 15 minutes away on the beach fronting Bellows Air Force Base as President Bill Clinton did."
But Obama and friends opted instead to secure use of three luxury beachfront places, including the “Winter White House” – or Kailua home that the president rents two weeks a year.
That facility, Hawaii Reporter, noted, normally rents for an estimated $3,500 a day or $75,000 a month, according to the web site Gadling.com.
The latter describes the place as a “7,000 square foot home [that] features 5 bedrooms, 5 ½ bathrooms, a media room with surround sound, a kitchen suited for a master chef, a dining room and great room, a secluded lagoon-style pool with tropical waterfalls and a lavish island spa. The ocean lanai and garden lanai showcase ornate landscaping and stunning views of Kailua Bay and Mount Olomana.”