Obama’s summer holiday no walk on the beach
“He wants you to relax and have a good time,” Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said as Air Force One carried the first family to the Massachusetts island where they are spending a week-long holiday. “Take some walks on the beaches. Nobody is looking to make any news, so he’s hoping that you guys can enjoy Martha’s Vineyard while we’re there.”
“I asked him if he had a message for the press corps, and that’s what it is,” Burton said.
No president really leaves the news behind when he takes time off, but Obama’s 7-day break would be a busy news week, even if it ended now — just halfway through.
On Monday, the Obama administration said it was setting up a new group to interrogate terrorism suspects in accordance with established rules, to be overseen by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, rather than the Central Intelligence Agency. His attorney general, Eric Holder, named a special prosecutor to probe CIA prisoner abuse cases.
On Tuesday, Obama broke the news perhaps most keenly awaited by financial markets. He announced that he would nominate Ben Bernanke to a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve. The decision on whether Obama would retain the central banker as the economy struggles to recover from recession had been widely expected, but not until later in the year.
And on Wednesday, Obama faced the news of the death of his friend and former U.S. Senate colleague, Ted Kennedy, issuing an overnight statement and making brief remarks at the farm where he is spending his vacation.
The president has squeezed in some relaxation in between his news events. He has played golf twice, gone out to dinner, visited with friends and hit the beach at least once. And his five-book reading list totals more than 2,300 pages.
And at least Obama has an easy answer for critics who said he shouldn’t be taking a break with his healthcare reform plan struggling, a stumbling economy and violence up in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Photo credits: U.S. President Barack Obama watches his tee shot (Brian Snyder/Reuters) Obama watches as Bernanke speaks (Jason Reed/Reuters) Obama leaves the podium after making a statement to the press following the death of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy (Jason Reed/Reuters)