Politics beckon again as Obama’s Maine getaway ends
After a laid-back family getaway on Maine’s scenic shoreline, it’s back to political reality for President Barack Obama.
The first family wrapped up a three-day mini-vacation in the upscale Bar Harbor resort and boarded a small presidential jet headed for Washington, where Obama will again face the daily pressures and policy battles.
In the coming week, he will weigh the latest dose of good news together with lingering concerns about the BP oil spill, sign a Wall Street overhaul into law and hold talks with new British Prime Minister David Cameron. Enduring problems like the struggling economy, high unemployment and the war in Afghanistan also remain on his plate.
Obama may have trouble readjusting after an idyllic summer weekend spent hiking, biking and boating with first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha in and around Mount Desert Island, home to rugged Acadia National Park.
For Obama, it marked a rare family vacation not interrupted by the demands of the presidency. The Obamas’ holiday plans have been overtaken in the past by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, an attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound jetliner and the death of Senator Ted Kennedy.
Even the Maine vacation stirred political background noise. Some Republicans used it to criticize Obama for continuing his “leisure activities,” including occasional golf outings, during the oil spill disaster. A few insisted the Obamas should have traveled instead to the stricken Gulf coast as an example for tourists.
The White House dismissed such complaints. Supporters pointed out that Democrat Obama had vacationed far less than Republican predecessor George W. Bush at this point in his tenure.
But with the oil spill hurting Obama politically, he could face heightened criticism if he decides for the second straight year on a longer family vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. He could get a boost, however, if a BP test that has finally halted the flow of oil from the blown-out well is deemed a success.
“Good family time” was the way Katie McCormick-Lelyveld, the first lady’s press secretary, described the Maine visit.
Lobster was on menu. No public events were on the agenda. Obama, seemingly more weighed down by the burdens of office as his challenges have grown and his poll ratings have sagged, looked more relaxed than in recent months. At various stops on his Maine itinerary, he was seen engaging with locals and tourists in an easygoing manner.
But after “date night” at Bar Harbor’s Havana restaurant on Saturday, the first couple escaped through a side door, disappointing a large crowd gathered on the street outside.
Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (Obama walking along a trail on Cadillac Mountain in Maine, walking with his family on vacation),