Deane, there's always room for more frugality in any large entity, be that a major corporation or the federal government. Even so, the right always gets the vapors when the Obamas spend money. For perspective, this is from Snopes, published in 2009:
First Lady Michelle Obama has about 22 staffers working for her, directly or indirectly. (Some other accounts put that figure at 24.) However, it's grossly inaccurate to claim that the current First Lady has hired "an unprecedented number of staffers," or to assert (as stated in the anonymously tacked-on final paragraph) that First Lady Laura Bush had but a single staffer working for her.
The 2008 White House Office Staff List, issued during the final year of President George W. Bush's tenure in office, includes sixteen different staffers with the words "First Lady" in their position titles — exactly the same number as that listed for Michelle Obama in 2009. If all staffers listed with "Social Secretary" in their titles are included as part of the First Lady's retinue (as was done with the Michelle Obama example cited above), then Mrs. Bush had at least 18 people working for her in 2008 (not including any of the various personnel listed only as "Staff Assistants," some of whom may also have worked for her directly or indirectly).
In fact, according to Anita McBride, Laura Bush's former Chief of Staff, Mrs. Bush had between 24 and 26 staffers working for her by the end of her husband's second term in office. It's therefore fair to say that the size of Michelle Obama's staff is not "unprecedented," but rather on a par with her immediate predecessor's.
Moreover, according to the Associated Press, several other First Ladies had larger numbers of personnel working for them than Michelle Obama does:
A look at some first ladies and their staff sizes:
Laura Bush: Between 24 and 26 by end of President George W. Bush's term in 2009, according to Anita McBride, Mrs. Bush's chief of staff.
Lady Bird Johnson, whose signature issue was beautifying roadways, had a staff of 30, said Stacy A. Cordery, a history professor at Montmouth College in Illinois who studies first ladies.
Betty Ford had almost the same number.
Jacqueline Kennedy, who made renovating the White House her cause, had about 40 people on staff, Cordery said.
I sometimes think that the right will only be happy if the Obamas would ride a Greyhound Bus everywhere they go. Preferably, sitting in the back.