Obama beat: no shortage of commentary
A weekly gleaning of news reports about President Obama's vacation: Where he will stay, what he will do, and references to the Island (described as tony, chic and haven of the rich and powerful didn't you know?) and Islanders that may surprise some.
President Barack Obama and his family arrived Thursday at Martha's Vineyard Airport with no fanfare. Not even an official reception by airport commissioner John Alley of West Tisbury in the trademark top hat he dons when officiating at weddings and wore to welcome president Bill Clinton when he visited the Island.
One week into it, the Presidential vacation has been marked by golf and more golf, shopping, beach outings, dinner out and socializing with friends.
Because a rotating group of reporters is assigned to tag along daily and files one pool report the only scoops are of the ice cream variety.
Despite the first family's low public profile, and a spare flow of news, columnists and pundits have not been at a loss for words or insights.
During the start of the Gulf oil crisis, critics accused Mr. Obama of not showing enough emotion. Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby wants the president to look like he is enjoying the job.
In an Aug. 22, column titled, "Lighten up, Mr. President," Mr. Jacoby told Mr. Obama, "Americans like their president to relish the job he's been entrusted with."
Mr. Jacoby took issue with the media vacation critics and wished the president well.
"I like seeing the president of the United States enjoying himself. To tell the truth, what I wonder about is not why you would go out of your way to have fun. It's why you generally seem to be having so little," Mr. Jacoby wrote.
"Let's face it, Mr. President, you're not exactly a standout in the joie de vivre department. P.G. Wodehouse says of one of his characters, 'He had the look of one who had drunk the cup of life, and found a dead beetle at the bottom.' With all due respect, that character sounds like you."
Mr. Jacoby said that for a guy who spent several years single-mindedly running for the presidency, Mr. Obama seems to complain a lot about the difficulties of his job.
"Politically, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were controversial and even polarizing, but both inspired — and continue to inspire — a deep and durable public affection. Is it just a coincidence that both exuded an irrepressible optimism about life and a sunny enthusiasm for the nation that elected them?
"By contrast, you come across too often as irritable and self-pitying. It's not attractive, and it's not winning you the admiration of the American people. Lighten up, Mr. President. You've got the job of a lifetime. Enjoy it."
The president's book purchases during a visit to the Bunch of Grapes bookstore in Vineyard Haven provided a jumping off point for Maureen Dowd of the New York Times. In a column published on Aug. 21 titled, "Going Mad in Herds," Ms. Dowd took aim at critics of the plan for an Islamic community center and mosque near ground zero.
"The bookstore gave the president a copy of 'Freedom,' a new novel by Jonathan Franzen about a dysfunctional family in America," Ms. Dowd wrote. "This is apt, since Obama is the head of the dysfunctional family of America — a rational man running a most irrational nation, a high-minded man in a low-minded age."
Ms. Dowd said the country was having "some weird mass nervous breakdown" over the Islamic center. "Many people still have a confused view of Muslims, and the president seems unable to help navigate the country through its Islamophobia," she wrote.
She asked why some Americans would question whether Obama, a man who has written two best-selling memoirs, is a Muslim.
"Too lofty to pay heed to the daily bump and grind of politics, Obama has failed to present himself as someone with the common touch. And to the extent that people don't know him or don't get him, he becomes easier to demonize," she wrote.
"Obama is the victim of the elevated expectations he so skillfully created in 2008. Not to omit George Bush," Ms. Dowd continued, "He came as a redeemer and then — tied up in W.'s Gordian knots, dragged down by an economy leeched by wars and Wall Street charlatans — didn't redeem. And nothing bums out a nation that blows with the wind like a self-appointed messiah who disappoints."
In a story published on August 20, "Embattled on So Many Fronts: The Difference a Year Makes," Gazette reporter Mike Seccombe provided vacation analysis and commentary.
"When President Obama came to Martha's Vineyard for a break this time last year, after just eight months in office, there were those who questioned why he was taking time off so soon," Mr. Seccombe wrote. "Surely, though, a year later few would doubt the man really, really needs a vacation."
Mr. Seccombe noted Mr. Obama's slipping poll numbers and observed, "The manifestations of a Presidency under siege are everywhere, right down to the level of security at his Vineyard vacation home. Security and surveillance are vastly tighter this year."
Mr. Seccombe, a native of Australia, provided political insights to his adopted country: "In the year since the President was last here, the Tea Party has grown bigger. The Democrats have lost control of the Senate. Massachusetts, of all places, replaced a Democratic lion, Sen. Edward Kennedy, with a Republican ex-centerfold, Scott Brown. Wall Street has taken to sending a much higher proportion of its considerable political donations to the other side, and the Jewish lobby, a mainstay of Democratic support, also has grown disenchanted. The Supreme Court, in a moment of right-wing wisdom, has opened the floodgates for corporate political donations.
"Foreign policy problems are worse: Israel has contrived to make new enemies of old friends. America is leaving Iraq with no government and a broken infrastructure; the war in Afghanistan goes ever worse and public opinion has turned against it; Wikileaks has exposed the details of Pakistani perfidy ...
"There has been no significant decline in unemployment and foreclosures continue to go up. Xenophobic anti-immigrant sentiment has grown like Topsy. The lunar right is talking about "terror babies," and pushing Constitutional change, as if the document is some part of a left wing conspiracy ...
"When President Obama was elected, the satirical publication, the Onion, headlined its report "Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job." That headline looks more wryly prophetic every day. So who could blame the guy for wanting a little time off?"