The President and first lady Jill Biden have long celebrated Thanksgiving on the well-heeled Massachusetts island off Cape Cod. However, with most members of the public unfamiliar with the first family's holiday history, Democrats are dismissing concerns that self-proclaimed "Scranton Joe" will seem out of touch with the working-class voters he is attempting to persuade to cast ballots for Democrats next year.
According to presidential historian and Ronald Reagan biographer Craig Shirley, Biden's Thanksgiving plans personify a "Marie Antoinette attitude," as people struggle thanks to a pandemic-strained economy with record-high inflation.
"Reagan was always disparaged for spending Thanksgiving at the ranch in California, but Biden’s tone-deafness is alarming," Shirley confirmed. "Yes, presidents have often been criticized for where they spent Thanksgiving, but Biden’s choice is especially egregious."
The Republican strategist added, "Going to Nantucket is ill-advised for presidents at 36% approval and falling."
An average of two-fifths of respondents told pollsters they approve of Biden's job as President, while a majority disapprove, according to RealClearPolitics.
Last week, a Fox News poll found that less than a quarter of registered voters feel optimistic about the economy compared to a third in December 2020 at the end of former President Donald Trump's Administration. The poll found that more than a quarter named the economy their most pressing issue before coronavirus and inflation-supply chain problems. And higher grocery prices are creating "serious" hardship for a third of respondents, increasing 28% in August.
Barring "some particularly offensive optic or comment" in Nantucket, fellow historian David Pietrusza predicted there would not be too much political pushback.
"Let's face it: Presidents don't stay at Motel 6," Pietrusza told the Washington Examiner. "Even when Franklin Roosevelt followed up his 1932 election in the heart of the Great Depression and went off sailing on his multi-millionaire buddy Vincent Astor's immense yacht, the 264-foot Nourmahal, there was little significant downside."
"True, the opposition may carp, but then the conversation returns to larger ongoing issues," he conceded.
Trump spent most of his Presidential Thanksgiving at Mar-a-Lago, his luxury private resort in Palm Beach, Florida, except for 2019 when he surprised U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan. Former President Barack Obama tended to celebrate at the White House, dropping into a Washington, D.C., soup kitchen during the day. He would then travel to Hawaii, one of his childhood homes, for Christmas after vacationing in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, in the summer.
Biden has spent every Thanksgiving on Nantucket since 1975, minus 2015, when his son Beau died from brain cancer, and 2020 due to the pandemic. The first couple took their inaugural trip to the island shortly after they started dating in 1972.
The Nantucket escape was preceded by a Friendsgiving dinner Monday with service members and military families at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Joe and Jill Biden also joined Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentlemen Doug Emhoff for a community service project Tuesday before they fly out.