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First Couple Faces Criticism For Dining Decisions

The first couple have continued to convey political messages about food with their recent dining choices. The Obamas spent Saturday evening in Manhattan, where they dined at James Beard Award-winning chef Dan Barber's restaurant Blue Hill before catching a Broadway show.

Within hours, news sites were awash with commentary on the first couple's romantic dinner. "Is it possible to be too political at mealtime?" the Washington Post posited, noting the couple has adopted a pattern of choosing eateries with strong local ties and sustainable food agendas. The Times' Frank Bruni called the decision "too pat and controlled," portraying the president as overly somber and self-restrained when it comes to enjoying food.

Ironically, the same day the Obamas were chided for overthinking dinner, the Times also criticized the First Lady for not going far enough in her message about food. Writer Amanda Hesser lauded Michelle Obama for bringing attention to the local foods movement, then criticized her for stopping short of promoting cooking. Wrote Hesser: "Terrific local ingredients aren't of much use if people aren't cooking them . . . Just as she highlighted American fashion by wearing the clothes of young designers, she could call attention to cooking by bringing America's talented young chefs to the White House for a food summit meeting."

Shouldn't the Obamas be commended for making educated dining choices? Is the media coming down too hard on the presidential couple? How do you feel about the food selections the Obamas have made thus far?


Join The Conversation
kathrynliz kathrynliz 8 years
3rd vote for "who cares". If it happens every week, then we'll regroup, but a date night? Obviously, they can't just do a lot of things spur of the moment. Cheers to them, and I didn't vote for BO. ;-)
lilkimbo lilkimbo 8 years
And to answer your questions Yum, no, they shouldn't be commended for making intelligent dining choices. And no, the media isn't coming down too hard on them. For every article I've seen criticizing them, I've seen at least two praising them. To focus on it at all is silly.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 8 years
Everything they do is overanalyzed by people on both sides. Yes, people are judging too harshly. However, people are also praising his decisions on where to eat too readily.
DCStar DCStar 8 years
I think it was sweet and we shouldn't over-analyze the situation. A husband made a promise to his wife. He fulfilled it by taking her to a carefully chosen dinner and broadway show. Obama is behaving as a role model should - carefully making each move to lead by example. That said - I do like the idea of the Obamas taking in some shows at the Kennedy Center!! Great idea there :)
Modus-Vivendi Modus-Vivendi 8 years
I'll chime in on the who cares? And I'm also curious about security, hipto. I would think a president this fond of comparing himself to Lincoln would be superstitious about going to the theater. :shrug:
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
I'm with Party and Spectra. The scrutiny over every dining decision is getting ridiculous.
TidalWave TidalWave 8 years
@familyfitness: "You know, like normal couples do." LOL! What?! You mean to tell me that normal couples watch their kids' soccer game then get on a private jet that was bought with tax dollars and is fueled by tax dollars so you can fly to a city 4 hours driving time away just to eat dinner and watch a show. Yes, that is totally normal!!
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
"i know serious. W took 600 days of vacation, flying in and out of Crawford, going hunting one said a word" No one said a word? did you read the news?
kajivar kajivar 8 years
And some people (*cough*FoxNews*cough*) are yapping about how dare they spend money and have a night on the town? Like every single president and first lady in the past haven't gone on vacations and such? Please. When they're reduced to criticizing Barack Obama for asking for spicy mustard on his burger, you know they're grasping at straws.
kerabelle kerabelle 8 years
I say Obama must be doing something right if the media has to dig this hard to find something to criticize.
sarahcateh sarahcateh 8 years
this is so stupid.
Maddi-Maye Maddi-Maye 8 years
Partysugar and Spectra - I couldn't agree with you more!
chiefdishwasher chiefdishwasher 8 years
These expenses are part of the presidential perks....the man needs some time out....should we have ol W pay for all his trips to the ranch?
U2forlife U2forlife 8 years
i don't care where they go, as long as they pay for it, and considering this date night cost taxpayers 10's of thousands of dollars, i would think we would all care. he just doesn't seem to get that he is president and in a time of recession like now, he should be setting an example. afterall, he has chefs at his disposal at the White House 24/7 and what could possibly be more romantic than than the South Lawn? But, if they really feel the need to go out, then he should be paying out of pocket for the expenses incurred by flying and transporting him - and using his scheduling office, the secret service and his advance team. but, thus far, those expenses have come straight out of all our pockets.
hiptobesquare hiptobesquare 8 years
oh wow. this is news? though i am interested in how they did security at a broadway show.
metallicnymph metallicnymph 8 years
The Obamas support and are interested in places like Blue Hill... why wouldn't they want to dine there and experience it, politics aside? I know I would love to eat there. While they are making a political statement, the notion that it was thought out is a 50/50 kind of thing. maybe it was, or, maybe they ate somewhere they would want to eat, first family or not, and it inevitably becomes a political statement. most of all... given how into sustainable agriculture and local farming the obamas are, it doesn't seem suprising that they would choose to eat at such a place, so anyone making a big deal out of it sounds like a moron... an insane, irrational conservative that is desperate to spin anything the obamas do into a horror. they're supporting something they beleive in... hmmm... yes, there is a problem with that. (if it isn't obvious, i'm mocking said naysayers.)
Spectra Spectra 8 years
The media focuses WAY too much on the Obamas and their day-to-day life. If they had gone to Chili's and went to a movie, they would have been just as harshly judged. Actually, they would have been even MORE harshly judged than if they'd eaten at a sustainable/ecofriendly place. Let them have a night out and enjoy each other's company without being scrutinized every five minutes.
familyfitness familyfitness 8 years
WHO CARES? Didn't they just get on him for having lunch at the burger joint a couple weeks ago? I think it's great that they went out, had a nice dinner, saw a Broadway show, even watched their daughter's soccer game earlier in the day. You know, like normal couples do. This poor guy is coming into office at a devastating time in our country's history, and as tough as that is, I'm sure it's equally difficult on his spouse. Don't they deserve a night out? They should be commended for showing the American public that, among other things: married couples still need date nights once in a while; it's OK to stimulate the local economy by going out to dinner, whatever your budget; and above all, you shouldn't put too much emphasis on what other people think. As for Ms. Hesser's comment regarding the First Lady and cooking: Does Michelle Obama have to revolutionize everything, all by herself, in one day? Although I'm sure the cooking thing is on her To Do list, in the meantime, there are plenty of others who could pick up the slack. Give her a break.
Phil Phil 8 years
I think it's excellent that they're setting example for how people should be making dining decisions. I only hope that such an example will reflect on food policy in the form of actual change to the way the FDA, the USDA, and other federal organizations concerning food are run, and how they regulate the food industry. If their policy is congruent with their dining ethic, and their dining ethic promotes SOLE eating, than more power to 'em.
partysugar partysugar 8 years
I think the media is too obsessed with the Obamas. It doesn't matter where they dined, everyone would have found a way to critique them. If they had went to Le Bernardin, they would have gotten blasted for choosing a French establishment instead of American. If they had went to Scarpetta, they would be called too trendy and unoriginal, etc.
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