What Does the President Have Against Sin City?
Barack Obama has been forced to apologize for trashing Las Vegas twice. What is it about that mecca of hedonism that brings out the preacherman in him?
February 4, 2010 - 12:00 am
Obama’s recent remarks about Las Vegas have been approached as just another gaffe, a throwaway line that could have the unintentional result of driving business away from the economically beleaguered state of Nevada. But there may be deeper implications hidden in his words.
First, here’s what Obama said, in context:
Responsible families don’t do their budgets the way the federal government does. Right? When times are tough, you tighten your belts. You don’t go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don’t blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you’re trying to save for college. You prioritize. You make tough choices. It’s time your government did the same.
After the furor of criticism, Obama apologized, writing a letter to Harry Reid:
I wasn’t saying anything negative about Las Vegas. I was making the simple point that families use vacation dollars, not college tuition money, to have fun. There is no place better to have fun than Vegas, one of our country’s great destinations.
But it’s not as though Obama can plead ignorance. He has dissed Las Vegas before, and gotten a great deal of negative publicity for it. Surely that must have made an impression on him. Nor can he say his recent remarks about Las Vegas were off-the-cuff; they were carefully prepared and vetted by him in a speech. So why did he repeat the error?
We can dismiss Obama’s claim that he said nothing negative about the city. Although that is technically true — his words were about vacationing itself, using Vegas as an example — he must know that discouraging people from blowing their money in Las Vegas is discouraging people from going to Vegas itself, and that one of the biggest draws there is gambling.
Vegas is a city, but it’s hardly a typical city; gambling and the resultant tourism are its raison d’etre and the driving force behind its economy. Discouraging people from going there has negative repercussions for the financial health of the city of Las Vegas and the state of Nevada.
If Obama didn’t know that originally, he had to have learned it after his previous remarks. So we are left with the conclusion that (a) he is abysmally forgetful; (b) he is abysmally stupid; or (c) something keeps driving him to criticize Vegas. Or perhaps some combination of all three.
My guess is that it’s mostly (c), and that this has the side effect of making him seem forgetful and perhaps even stupid on this topic. I believe that what is driving him so forcefully is his desire to be a preacher/teacher to the great American unwashed, a superior moralizer who likes to lecture inferior others on what they should do with their money.