The New York Times reports First Lady Michelle Obama's aides cautioned against her going on the early August European vacation in which she stayed at a 5-star resort in Spain and mingled with royalty. The lavish trip, the aides reportedly argued, could result in harm to her image. "Aides say privately that they warned her there would be a cost to the trip, but she overruled them, insisting it was a rare chance to spend time with Sasha and with a friend whose father had died," the paper reports. "But the intensity of the uproar -- including accusations that she was a 'modern-day Marie Antoinette' -- caught the White House and Mrs. Obama off guard."
The trip resulted in the first extended negative press of the First Lady's time in the White House. Critics questioned why Mrs. Obama chose to go to a glitzy, high-priced resort at a time when unemployment is high and many Americans are suffering economically.
A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll taken during the trip showed that just 50 percent of those surveyed had a positive impression of Mrs. Obama -- down from 64 percent in April 2009 and 55 percent earlier this year.