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Republicans slam Obama date night in NYC as pricey and out of touch

June 1, 2009 |  9:17 am

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama having date night in Manhattan May 2009

As date nights go, it was a little on the pricey side.

Oh, the dinner for two at Blue Hill in Greenwich Village, which specializes in food grown in the Hudson Valley, was probably something Barack Obama could handle. Hey, even those tickets to the Broadway production of "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" at the Belasco Theater on West 44th Street, a play about the sons and daughters of newly-freed slaves, was within means for an author whose books sell in the mega-millions.

But the flight to Manhattan, the security helicopters, the shutting down of northbound lanes on the West Side Highway, well, that was all little too much for Republicans. Never mind the cheering crowds that lined the streets, conservatives noted the contrast between the Obamas' fancy Saturday night and the bankruptcy filing Monday for a company that has had to fire thousands of the nation's autoworkers.

"If President Obama wants to go to the theater, isn’t the presidential box at the Kennedy Center good enough?” asked Gail Gitcho of the Republican National Committee. In a research paper called "Putting on a Show," the RNC called into question the taste of a president who would spend taxpayer money to jet off to Manhattan for an evening while millions of Americans are out of work.

As President Obama prepares to wing into Manhattan’s theater district on Air Force One to take in a Broadway show, GM is preparing to file bankruptcy and families across America continue to struggle to pay their bills. ... Have a great Saturday evening – even if you’re not jetting off somewhere at taxpayer expense.

As Tucker Carlson told Fox News, "The Broadway show started late and an entire block was shut down during simply to satisfy the Obama's seemingly insatiable thirst for luxury. Please."

The truth is that the real cost of the trip, the political cost, is something Obama can shoulder because he is a popular president in his first year of office. Next year's date nights might not be as extravagant.

But the one thing that seems really off about the trip is that the president, usually cordial, seemed to blame First Lady Michelle Obama for the episode.

Asked about his Big Apple date, Obama said, "I am taking my wife to New York City because I promised her during the campaign that I would take her to a Broadway show after it was all finished."

So far, the ordeal of the campaign has been used as a reason to get Malia and Sasha a puppy and to take Michelle Obama to see a Broadway play. Can't wait to find out what he promised his mother-in-law.

-- Johanna Neuman

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Photo credit: J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press


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