Friday, July 16, 2010

Obamas Ruining Maine Weekend

Do you think Michelle Obama reads my blog?

After all, they’re going to coastal Maine this weekend for a quickie vacation, and don’t moms usually plan out family trips?

In this case, however, whoever planned this jaunt to the seaside has royally screwed things up.

First of all, plans were finalized only earlier this week. For the president to travel to a small island. In Maine. In the summer.

There is only one bridge linking Mount Desert Island, the First Family’s destination, to the mainland. There is no airport on Mount Desert Island, so the presidential motorcade will be tying up traffic for miles. Traffic that is already pretty challenging on a normal summer weekend.

Maine’s state motto is “vacationland” because, as I’ve raved myself in this blog, it’s a wonderful place to visit. Nobody is blaming the Obamas for wanting to enjoy some time there; indeed, the Bush family owns an entire island compound further down Maine’s coast in Kennebunkport.

The difference, however, is that the Bush’s compound, being an island, means that they could make presidential visits whenever they wanted and the town’s daily life didn’t grind to a halt. In Bar Harbor, the signature village on Mount Desert Island, this weekend’s sudden appearance by the First Family has turned life upside down.

So Much for Economic Stimulus

Some friends of mine piece together a meager Maine existence by creating and selling handcrafted Maine-themed birds, lamps, and souvenirs. They’re members of the Penobscot Valley Craft Association that had already scheduled a show at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor for this weekend. However, when the Obamas made their last-minute booking at the next-door hotel, suddenly everything was cancelled. Roads were closed. Businesses forced to shutter. Late Wednesday, the College of the Atlantic evicted the craft show.

Of course, having a neighboring hotel hosting the president was something the College of the Atlantic couldn’t control, so they’ve refused to grant refunds to the Penobscot Valley Craft Association and its vendors. Along with the forfeited application fees paid by vendors, my friends are losing revenue by missing what could have been a lucrative summer weekend selling to Bar Harbor tourists in the middle of the season. Plus, because of the Obamas poor timing, none of these vendors have been able to schedule anything else at this late date to replace what they’re now losing. It’s one big economic mess in one of the country’s most economically-starved states.

Way to go, O!

Chump Change You Can Believe In

And you know what, it’s all the fault of the Obama family. You can’t blame anybody else.

You can’t blame the hotel for not passing on the chance to host a sitting president. You can’t blame the village of Bar Harbor for letting the Secret Service shut down streets and businesses for security purposes. You can’t blame the tourists who are already leaving Mount Desert because they know a presidential visit will wreak havoc on the island. You can’t blame the College of the Atlantic for being caught between a greedy hotel and its own budget concerns.

If the Obamas had planned their schedule better, and inquired about staying in a seaside Maine hotel earlier in the year, officials and businesses on Mount Desert Island would have had plenty of time for contingency planning - or suggesting that September is also a nice time to visit.

If the Obamas had realized how important tourism is to Maine’s struggling economy, they would have been more mindful of how their presence would disrupt an already hectic summer weekend there.

And if the Obamas were serious about participating in the president’s plea for Americans to vacation along the Gulf of Mexico because of the oil disaster there, then what are they doing halfway across the continent in pristine Maine?

Besides, doesn’t he have a lot of millionaire Democrat friends on the island they can stay with? It’s not like Mount Desert is bereft of wealthy liberals owning seaside estates. If the family is this disorganized and ineffectual, at least some of their political friends could have helped them out to minimize some of the bad PR coming their way. Staying on the island at all will be a monumental headache for everyone, but at least private oceanfront estates remove the presidential entourage from the close quarters of village life in Bar Harbor.

So enjoy your family’s stay in Maine this weekend, Mr. President. You’ll be the only ones.


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