Seriously, Must Presidential Visits Be Such Regal Affairs?’

Marine One with US President Barack Obama lands at a Wall Street heliport on July 17, 2015 in New York, New York. Obama plans to spend the night in New York City after attending a Democratic National Committee fundraiser. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI        (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Security is one thing; a sense of moderation is another. They are not incompatible values.

President Obama just shattered another long-standing tradition: he didn’t stay at the Waldorf-Astoria during his visit to New York City this past weekend, and is apparently not planning to use the venerable Park Avenue tower during September’s meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. Every president since Herbert Hoover has either lived or stayed at the Waldorf—though Jimmy Carter says he never actually spent the night—and it was for many years the official residence of the United States’ permanent representative to the U.N. The list of overnight guests includes Mr. Obama who stayed at the hotel during previous General Assembly sessions.

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“He might do well to take a page from the British. Both Prime Minister David Cameron and the heir to the British thrown, Prince William, were recently photographed traveling (heaven forbid) economy class.”

But no more. The State Department announced that it was moving its headquarters during the U.N. session. Apparently, the sale of the Waldorf to China’s Anbang Insurance Group triggered either pique over the recent hacking of 4.2 million U.S. government personnel records—where China is the main suspect—or real fears about security.

[Read the full editorial here, at the Observer]

As part of the $1.95 billion sale, there will be a major renovation of the hotel, and some are concerned that the new owners will implant new bugging equipment.

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“Similarly, Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton managed to stay chic flying to the French Alps for a ski vacation also on Easyjet.”

So the State Department has decamped to the New York Palace Hotel, which was recently purchased by South Korea’s Lotte Group. According to documents leaked by Edward Snowden, South Korea regularly spies on the United States, but we don’t much care.

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“When Mr. Obama and his daughters took a not-so-impromptu walk through Central Park, a caravan of 31 vehicles delivered them, at least 10 secret service agents, almost all wearing not-quite-matching blue and gray short-sleeve shirts, surrounded them, and a giant Cadillac Escalade followed closely behind—on the sidewalk.”

With all of this Spy vs. Spy activity, finding a decent hotel room is apparently getting tougher and tougher. Alas, payback is a bitch.

Mr. Obama came to the city this past weekend for a million-dollar fundraiser benefitting the Democratic National Committee, and to attend a performance of Hamilton with his daughters. (Perhaps it will inspire the president to leave our first Treasury Secretary on the $10 bill and find another denomination for a well-deserved woman’s portrait.) But back to the first family’s trip.

Now, we’re as star-struck as the next fellow…(read more)

Observer


2 Comments on “Seriously, Must Presidential Visits Be Such Regal Affairs?’”

  1. Lorra B. says:

    The pomp and circumstance is beyond ridiculous.


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