Friday, November 5, 2010

Passage to India

The right wing is all atwitter that President Obama’s trip to India will cost $200 million a day and that the entire Seventh Fleet is being deployed to attend to his every need. Michele Bachmann said so, so it has to be true, right?

“Well I think we know that just within a day or so the President of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day,” Bachmann said. “He’s taking two thousand people with him. He’ll be renting out over 870 rooms in India. And these are 5-star hotel rooms at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel.”

Except it’s not true. How do we know this? Well, according to Jonathan Weisman of The Wall Street Journal, who is going along on the trip, the claims are “ludicrous.”

Snopes.com, a website devoted to myth busting, noted that even if the Indian press has correctly reported the size of the president’s entourage – 3,000 – the cost would work out to $66,000 per person per day, “a figure that stretches credulity to the breaking point.” Factcheck.org noted that the entire war in Afghanistan costs $190 million a day.

But the report is demonstrably incorrect. It says the White House had blocked off the entire Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai – it hasn’t – and that the press traveling with Mr. Obama will be staying there. We won’t. Besides, the press pays its own way at considerable cost to the media outlets, not the U.S. taxpayer.

According to Steve M, it looks like other left-wing rags besides The Wall Street Journal are in on the cover-up:

Jeff Scogol, “The Rumor Doctor,” for Stars and Stripes, says the cost estimates and warship number are absurd:

…Sure enough, there are not 34 ships — and there isn’t an aircraft carrier — supporting the president’s trip, said a defense official, who declined to provide any information on security measures for presidential trips.

Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell called the notion of sending so many warships to protect the president “comical.”

“I will take the liberty this time of dismissing as absolutely absurd this notion that somehow we were deploying 10 percent of the Navy — some 34 ships and an aircraft carrier — in support of the president’s trip to Asia,” Morrell told reporters on Thursday.

Morrell would not talk about the president’s security arrangements other than to say “nothing close” to the armada reported in the Indian press is involved.

I believe it was either William Randolph Hearst or Groucho Marx who said, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good headline.”