The Washington Post magazine has a story on makeup artist Derrick Rutledge. It starts outside the locked door of temperamental star Chaka Khan:

Her makeup artist, Derrick Rutledge, is waiting, too. He just flew in to do her after working on Michelle Obama in the East Wing. After New Orleans, he’s scheduled to fly out to do Oprah Winfrey before returning home to Washington.

Rutledge, who earns up to $15,000 a day, numbers Mrs. Obama among his regular clients, along with Patti LaBelle, CeCe Winans, Oprah and many other one percenters.

Winfrey actually hired Rutledge after seeing his work for Mrs. Obama. She saw a picture of Mrs. Obama on the cover of Time magazine and said to herself, “Who did that?” Now that Winfrey and the first lady both use Rutledge, “The first lady comes first. When she doesn’t need him, I get second dibs,” Winfrey told the Post.

Rutledge met Mrs. Obama in 2009:

In March 2009, Rutledge’s phone started ringing repeatedly, but he didn’t recognize the number and didn’t answer. When he finally did, the caller said it was one of Michelle Obama’s assistants and asked if he wanted to audition to be her makeup artist.

Okay, this may seem just a touch decadent to us 99 percenters. But it’s fine with me as long as the Obamas are paying out of their own purse to fly Rutledge back into town for that special touch (eyebrows are his thing).

Even though Ms. Obama’s makeup might be considered a business expense, we know that, if it were on our dime, she’d hire someone less expensive, don’t we? Don’t we? The article is mum on this aspect of the relationship, dealing extensively instead with Rutledge’s struggles with his weight (Mrs. Obama, have you spoken to Derrick about this?).

If the piece in the magazine had been about a conservative first lady, I can’t help thinking that the matter of cost to the taxpayer would have been raised.  If the reporter did, in fact, ask and found that the Obamas are paying (and let’s assume they are), it would have been nice if the story had contained a sentence to that effect.

Mrs. Obama was roundly criticized for her extravagant 2010 trip to Marbella on the grounds that it cost the taxpayer quite a bit of money for her use of Air Force Two. She was dubbed Marie Antoinette by a conservative columnist, and this trip was widely considered bad PR, even by liberals.    

But by and large, however, Mrs. Obama doesn’t get painted by the MSM as a spendthrift. Nancy Reagan’s alleged penchant for extravagance, on the other hand,  was so pilloried in the press that Mrs. Reagan had to do a (demeaning?) skit at the Gridiron Club at which she sang a song written for the occasion and called “Second Hand Clothes” to the tune of “Second Hand Rose.”

You might enjoy rereading Byron York’s piece on Mrs. Obama’s visit to Zanesville, Ohio, in 2008 when her husband was a candidate for the White House. Explaining her and her husband’s economic struggles, Mrs. Obama told women in an economically troubled county that the Obamas were spending around $100,000 a year on education and such extras as piano lessons for their two girls. According to York, the women nevertheless felt touched that Mrs. Obama had spent time with them.

Still, I can't help feeling that the presence of Rutledge shows a disconnect between rhetoric against corporate jets and the way our first family lives.