The Obamas' trip later this month to Africa could cost taxpayers in the vicinity of $100 million because of massive presidential vacation resources — hundreds of Secret Service agents, 14 bulletproof limos, and much, much more — but there is more important outrage to be had: Despite all the money we're spending for the first family to visit South Africa, Tanzania, and Senegal, we're not even going to get another awesome picture of a president on safari!
The details of President Obama's trip arrive today from The Washington Post's Carol D. Leonnig and David Nakamura, who got their hands on a confidential document outlining the massive resources to outfit and protect the president and his family during their eight-day trip that begins June 28. The vacation, according to the Post, will require at least one Navy aircraft carrier, a rotating shift of fighter jets, plus military cargo planes, three truck-loads of bulleproof glass (just for the hotel-room windows), and all those limos and security guys. The Secret Service detail could balloon the cost beyond the $60-$100 million that other presidential Africa trips have totaled.
If the reaction at Sasha and Malia's expensive spring break trip earlier this year is any indication, there's no doubt people are going to be upset about those numbers. But President Obama's travels to Africa are just like those of the two presidents before him: Bill Clinton went in 1998, and George W. Bush went with his family in 2003 and again in 2008. Clinton's trip cost the government around $42.8 million, according to the Government Accountability Office, and the Post doesn't mention how much Bush's trips cost — but to give you an idea, a 2003 trip Bush took to London sounds a lot like Obama's Africa trip. The Telegraph reported at the time:
Mr. Bush will be accompanied by a retinue consisting of 250 members of the Secret Service, 150 advisers from the National Security Department, 200 representatives of other government departments and 50 political aides.
There will also be approximately 100 journalists travelling with him. There are also his personal chef, personal assistants, four cooks, medics and the presidential 15-strong sniffer dog team.
Every U.S. president takes expensive, resource-sucking trips. But the big difference this time around? Obama bailed on his safari:
The president and first lady had also planned to take a Tanzanian safari as part of the trip, which would have required the president’s special counterassault team to carry sniper rifles with high-caliber rounds that could neutralize cheetahs, lions or other animals if they became a threat, according to the planning document. But officials said Thursday that the safari had been canceled in favor of a trip to Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, where Nelson Mandela was held as a political prisoner.
So, yeah, sorry: No elephant photos. They would have been almost as fantastic as these....
Yes, this is the President of the United States watching elephants have sex:
The Clintons saw elephants, too:
Note pre-texting Hillary's game face with the rhinos:
You don't need a safari for a great photo, though:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.