Noemie Emery: Americans do more with less, politicians do more with more

You are a senator who married quite well, and whose wife holds title to five major mansions, situated in some of the world's choicest places, supplying multiple venues for year-around pleasure. But sooner or later things tend to pall, and you need something different: a shiny new yacht.

You order the Isabel for a mere $7 million, and in the interests of thrift stash it up in Rhode Island, to avoid paying the $500,000 Massachusetts state taxes. As you are trying to raise taxes on everyone else, this causes a scandal, which you do not handle well.

It's embarrassing trying to claim that you are not a tax cheat, but less embarrassing than the fact that you are a progressive and liberal Democrat who bought a $7 million yacht in the midst of recession, when others around you have tightened their belts.

This “Isabel Factor” isn't confined to Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., or even to boats. It led former Vice President Gore to tell people to cut power costs while amassing a fortune in houses (which he is now, unhappily, splitting with Tipper); and former Sen. John “Two Americas” Edwards, D-N.C., to build the immense, sprawling manor house he is no longer living in, which cost almost as much as the yacht.

What with Gore's masseuse problems and the news that a film will be made of the Edwards sex scandal, it was a bad several weeks for the Democrats, and their 2000-2004 tickets. But not quite as unpleasant as what happened next.

It was the Isabel Factor that made Michelle Obama decide she needed to take a vacation (from all the vacations she'd taken already) and head off to Spain, taking with her Air Force Two, 67 members of the Secret Service, and some of her closest acquaintances, blocking out a number of rooms in a five-star establishment, where rooms go for $400 to over $2,500 a night.

It's also that indulging her whims means expense and upheaval for too many people: Her “date night” in New York cost taxpayers $100,000 and shut down whole parts of Manhattan. A beach in Spain was closed down for her aquatic convenience.

She has never acknowledged this, much less apologized for it. She, like Kerry (who only cashed out when he met a rich widow), seems to believe it her due.

One is an incident; two a coincidence; three and four make a trend. Someday, the Democrats may sit down and ask themselves why they, the party of “social justice,” redistribution and “fairness” in everything, have produced so many key marquee figures who lambaste “greed” so robustly, while carrying on like the Ancien Regime.

Doing the math, the Boston Herald figured that if a kayak went for $300, “Kerry's tax bill alone could guarantee summer fun for 1,666 Bay State households,” while a 10-year-old 24-foot Bayliner offered a similar bargain: “Kerry might not want to be seen in one, but for what he's shelling out in taxes, he could be the proud owner of l6 of them, and still have about six months of his average constituents' take-home pay.”

Failing that, the next time Michelle needs a rest, Kerry could offer the Isabel, which has two VIP suites, wine storage and glossy teak tables. It should cost less than flying to Spain.

Examiner Columnist Noemie Emery is contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of “Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families.”

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