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Sympathetic AP calls White House a ‘gilded cage’ for Biden, excuses frequent trips to Delaware

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President Joe Biden hasn’t been in the White House long — just under two months — but he already appears to be growing weary of its confines.

As noted by the Associated Press, Biden has spent three of his eight weekends as president at his longtime home outside Wilmington, Del., with another weekend spent at Camp David, the presidential retreat, located at Catoctin Mountain Park, Frederick County, Md.

Nevertheless, while describing the White House as a “magnificent building,” to Biden, apparently, the 132-room mansion is also stifling.

“Many presidents have complained at one point or another about feeling confined in the White House. Biden already has echoed earlier presidents in comparing the experience to living in a ‘gilded cage,’” the Associated Press noted.

In an interview, University of Chicago political scientist William Howell tried to offer an explanation.

“What he wanted to be was president,” he said. “It is not the White House per se that is the draw.”

As expected, the administration is defending Biden’s frequent trips amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic even as the White House and federal heath agencies have warned Americans to avoid traveling as much as possible.

“The president lives in Wilmington. It’s his home. That’s where he’s lived for many, many years,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said recently. “And as you know, as any president of the United States does, he takes a private airplane called Air Force One to travel there.”

“I think most Americans would also see that as a unique circumstance,” she added.

Nevertheless, Biden’s frequent trips away from the White House have drawn criticisms online, as well as comparisons to when former President Donald Trump was panned for his trips to his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida.

“Taking a break already???” One user on Twitter wrote.

“But Trump couldn’t go to Mar A Lago without democrats b**ching,” wrote another.

“Ok fine. But if he dares play golf during his break, he should be attacked and impeached. The hypocrisy of the @AP is tragic. Next hard-hitting article will be about Biden’s favorite pie,” still another wrote.

Others made similar complaints.

The AP story went on to point out that presidential travel does not come cheaply, though there are obvious cost differences when considering several factors including distance from the White House, Secret Service and other government personnel, and additional travelers like Cabinet secretaries, lawmakers, and staff.

The article made sure to include that former President Donald Trump traveled four times to his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida in February and March 2017, weeks after being inaugurated, and that it cost some $13.6 million for security, lodging, and other staff-related travel expenses.

“Trump took the more familiar version of Air Force One, a modified 747, on the two-hour-plus flight to the commercial airport in West Palm Beach, Florida,” the AP reported. 

“Biden has flown a smaller version of the aircraft for the roughly half-hour flight to the Delaware Air National Guard Base. He made this weekend’s trip on the Marine One presidential helicopter,” the story added.

The AP also pointed out that former President George W. Bush visited his Texas ranch, while President Barack Obama stayed in Washington, D.C. most weekends because his daughters “belonged to weekend soccer and basketball leagues.”

Jon Dougherty

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