By Nancy Smith
The clogged roads and strict security protocols that hurt local businesses and frustrate residents in Palm Beach … they’re all back. President Donald Trump is home for Thanksgiving.
Truth be told, a lot of Palm Beach Countians would have preferred he ate his turkey somewhere else. And they said so Tuesday evening in often ugly-worded signs along the route to Mar-A-Lago, the first family’s arrival at Palm Beach International Airport at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday went well enough. By all accounts, the president spent several minutes greeting and signing autographs for cheering supporters before he, first lady Melania and their son Barron joined the waiting motorcade.
But it deteriorated from there. Mostly.
For every “Welcome Home, Mr. President” sign I saw in news reports of the trip, locals hoisted perhaps three “Get Off My Lawn,” “Hurry Back to Washington,” “You Should Pay a Toll to Use Our Roads,” or similar messages of you’re-not-welcome-here.
Surprisingly, messages less about President Trump’s policy than the train of disruption he brings with him to the island.
“He paralyzes our lives when he comes to town,” Palm Beach travel consultant Lara St. Clair told Sunshine State News Tuesday night. “He’s killing us. We’re in freeze mode until Air Force One is airborne again.”
The first holiday weekend Donald Trump brought his presidency home to Mar-A-Lago was a true come-to-Jesus lesson in business loss and lifestyle chaos for locals. It was last February. The New York Times used numbers to tell the story of 2017 President’s Day weekend in Palm Beach:
- “$200,000 in lost fuel sales at a large local airport.
- “75 no-shows at a new restaurant in just one night.
- “$60,000 a day to pay overtime to sheriff’s deputies who guard the many closed roads.
- “250 private flights grounded every day.”
Said the Times, “Secret Service rules restricting private flights have grounded operations at Palm Beach County Park Airport in Lantana, nine miles south of Mr. Trump’s club … That means no parachute jumping, banner advertising, flight lessons or chopper trips. Business owners there are still hoping that a president who campaigned on improving the economic prospects of the little guy will be sympathetic to the havoc his visits wreak.”
There are reports everywhere after Tuesday’s landing of exasperation over the drain on small businesses and the circuitous routes residents have to drive to avoid two miles of closed roads.
The news was full of grumpy people.
I bring this up because watching the TV coverage Tuesday night, seeing Trump at best cold-shouldered into town, I was struck by the memory of another time, another island — well, a peninsula, really — and another president. So many similarities, but a starkly different reaction from a town equally affected by a presidential entourage. The treatment compares like night and day.
I was in Hyannis Port, Mass. vacationing with my parents in 1962 during a long Fourth of July holiday, when President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade rolled into town. The first family was on its way to the Kennedy Compound. Nothing else on the road moved.
Looking back, I don’t recall a single grumpy face. Certainly there were no hostile signs, no rude finger gestures. People waved American flags and blew kisses. They cheered and clapped and jumped up and down, hoping the president would wave back. Kids tried to keep up on their bikes behind the last car in the motorcade.
As I said, I know for a fact Kennedy’s presence paralyzed traffic on the long, narrow road into town and made prisoners of residents for hours that day. And I also know because I’ve read since that the Kennedys’ presence in compact Hyannis Port was as disruptive and deleterious to local small business as Trump’s has been to Palm Beach County’s.
I fear more than just the mood of the town or the state or the nation has changed in 55 years. It seems to me what makes us so different today than we were back then — so much less tolerant of the clobber a president carries with him — is less who our president is or whether he’s popular or unpopular, because Kennedy had his own policy problems in 1962. And it isn’t 9/11 or the threat of terrorism all by themselves that makes us different.
What I think it is, is the long, stealthy slipping away of civility, and God help us, some collective need to hurt each other with our individual definition of patriotism. It’s almost a way of life now. It’s less a statement on Donald Trump than it is a statement on ourselves. It shows at times like these. Here we have a simple thing, a president moving within the country, yet we respond not with spontaneity but with a political statement — the party musters a group of cheerleaders for show — or we treat it as an almighty nuisance.
Over the years we Americans have lost some of the best of ourselves.
Nancy Smith is the editor of Sunshine State News. She started her career at the Daily Mirror and The Observer in London before spending 28 years at The Stuart News/Port St. Lucie News as managing editor and associate editor. She was president of the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors in the mid-1990s. Reach her by email here, or follow her on twitter at @NancyLBSmith.
I don’t read anything by Nancy Smith!
Mikey Eyes says
And remember how Trump paralyzes Martha’s Vineyard every summer! Oh wait that’s Obama! LOL! Stupid article by another Trump hater!
S Peters says
“What I think it is, is the long, stealthy slipping away of civility, and God help us, some collective need to hurt each other with our individual definition of patriotism. It’s almost a way of life now.” I find that an interesting statement. Civility…Trump is the guy that shows the least amount of civility towards his fellow man than anyone I can remember in public life. Back during the Kennedy years was a man people loved, cheered and cried over his untimely death. Civility….The absence of civility directed towards Trump (and each other at times), a malignant narcissist, dictator wannabe and abusive in words, thoughts and actions. And a cold shoulder coming from a RED state that voted for him? Go figure….
You win – The Rush Limbaugh Complaining About Cigar Smoke Award.
I fully agree with Mikey Eyes, Trump won get over it. Trump 2020
Edith Campins says
How much is this Trump vacation costing us? Why number is this vacation?
How people for get or chose not to mention that when JFK visited HIS estate and back then known as the ‘Winter White House,’ the Kennedys Palm Beach estate there was traffic issues but that was a popular president vs Trump.
We all are going to pay no matter who was elected president. Taxpayers pick up the tab for the commander-in-chief’s travel and that’s the way its been for a long long time. It has nothing to do with a Democrat or a Republican President, they travel we pay.
Chris A Pickett says
Funny, I don’t remember Ms Smith complaining about Obama’s vacations, or how much money his family spent. of the taxpayers, on Martha’s Vinyard. Perhaps Ms Smith is one sided, or simply hates conservatives.
I guess Obama never caused any of this.Oh wait he still is.Remember Trump takes no salary.
trump has taken THREE times as much time away from work at the White House and playing GOLF than President Obama. . . and we are paying for it:
Mike B says
Hey Nancy, remember Trump won Florida and the overall election. And he will win again!
We seriously need to evaluate who we are as individuals and how easily we diverse when given the opportunity to comment on social media. Like every president, Trump has his strengths and weaknesses, and it is sad that we feel the need to harshly judge individuals in simple type written sound bytes to satisfy our selfish little thoughts. The Palm Beach Airport is on Southern Blvd., Trump’s home is a few miles east on Southern Blvd. and the route is NOT lined with lovely homes or quaint shops, so why are we making a mountain out of an ant hill? Isn’t there something productive we can do to make a positive change in someone’s life today…Maybe, pick up a Star on the Christmas tree at Publix and make a difference in one child’s holiday!
Let’s be honest here; Palm Beach is not exactly a red County, so it’s not surprising he gets a cool welcome there. I do agree civility has been thrown to the wind, particularly in the last year. Sure, Trump is a little more bombastic while Obama’s aggression was more passive, bt he did his insulting nonetheless. Remember the guns and religion insult; it was just another way of saying people from certain areas of the country are ignorant. He got away with a lot simply because of his skin color. If anyone criticized him for anything, it was all because he or she was a racist. I would also argue there is a difference between the left and the right; I see a whole lot more rude gestures and “F— Donald Trump” signs than I ever saw directed at Obama. Again, anyone guilty of such acts against Obama would have immediately been labeled racist hater. You also have the slant in the media; no liberal publication ever questioned the value of Obama disrupting traffic or taking vacations ten hours away in Hawaii, while the current president rests at his own residences or venues which are under two hours away from D.C.
@People with a memory as short as their attention span
I’ve been checking the Drudge (sludge) Report for over 20 years – to see what wing-nuts are buying. Ever since Pumpkin Spice Hitler and his posse of comic book super villains oozed into power, there hasn’t been a peep about false government reports, golfing addiction, or any of the constant lies and distortions that were its daily fare. And not a peep critical of crooked little Donald.
Roger the Hutt is barking in hell, O’Really paid 10s of millions of dollars of hush money and still ended up a jobless blowhard. Yes, it’s been a tough year for Fox and Fools. Next year will make this one seem like a dream come true.
Merry Christmas AND happy holidays.
@ Veteran: being the first one to post on this editorial doesn’t look very true that you never read Nancy, funny.
Lets stop the bs and lies and see the “Apple” for what it really is: not a banana not and orange as incorrectly described or tried to be fed to us whether looked from the left side or the right side from above or below …is just an Apple!