A brief work break, and President Obama resumes vacation

A brief work break, and President Obama resumes vacation

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President Barack Obama spoke about the murder of journalist James Foley during a press briefing at the Edgartown School Wednesday. — ©Rick Friedman

President Barack Obama returned to his Martha’s Vineyard vacation schedule and the golf course Wednesday following a two-day break for a return to the White House and a series of meetings and conference calls Sunday and Monday concerning national and international events, including the situation in Ferguson, Mo., and the latest developments in Iraq and the economy.

Mr. Obama’s first full day back began on a somber note. In a brief statement from the Edgartown School cafeteria, President Obama, tieless but wearing a blue jacket and accompanied by deputy press secretary Eric Schultz, stepped to a podium and delivered remarks on the murder of journalist Jim Foley, 40, by terrorists.

A video posted online yesterday appeared to show a militant dressed in black beheading Mr. Foley.

“The entire world is appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley by the terrorist group ISIL,” Mr. Obama said in his remarks. “Jim was a journalist, a son, a brother, and a friend. He reported from difficult and dangerous places, bearing witness to the lives of people a world away. He was taken hostage nearly two years ago in Syria, and he was courageously reporting at the time on the conflict there.”

Mr. Obama said that he had spoken earlier in the day to Mr. Foley’s family and told them that “we are all heartbroken at their loss, and join them in honoring Jim and all that he did.”

Turning to the subject of the terrorists, Mr. Obama said, “Jim Foley’s life stands in stark contrast to his killers. Let’s be clear about ISIL. They have rampaged across cities and villages — killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children, and subject them to torture and rape and slavery. They have murdered Muslims — both Sunni and Shia — by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can for no other reason than they practice a different religion. They declared their ambition to commit genocide against an ancient people.

“So ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just God would stand for what they did yesterday, and for what they do every single day. ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings. Their ideology is bankrupt. They may claim out of expediency that they are at war with the United States or the West, but the fact is they terrorize their neighbors and offer them nothing but an endless slavery to their empty vision, and the collapse of any definition of civilized behavior.”

President Obama said ISIL would ultimately fail “because the future is won by those who build and not destroy, and the world is shaped by people like Jim Foley, and the overwhelming majority of humanity who are appalled by those who killed him.”

He promised that the United States “will continue to do what we must do to protect our people. We will be vigilant and we will be relentless. When people harm Americans, anywhere, we do what’s necessary to see that justice is done. And we act against ISIL, standing alongside others.”

Mr. Obama ended his remarks by saying that the country mourns the loss of Jim Foley. “May God bless and keep Jim’s memory, and may God bless the United States of America,” he said. He then turned quietly and walked out of the room

Afterward, the motorcade drove to the Vineyard Golf Club where he has played once before on this vacation. His golfing companions were retired basketball player Alonzo Mourning‎, businessman Glenn Hutchins, and Valerie Jarrett family member Cyrus Walker‎, according to the White House.

Mr. Obama and his family are expected to maintain their-low key schedule of dinner with friends, family activities and golf.

In the past week he and Michelle Obama have dined at State Road restaurant in West Tisbury, Atria in Edgartown and the Sweet Life Cafe in Oak Bluffs. In the past, President Obama and his family have attended the Oak Bluffs fireworks and, without the president, the Ag Fair.

President Barack Obama and daughter Malia ride through the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest in West Tisbury, Mass, on August 15, 2014. The President was joined by First Lady Michelle Obama.
President Barack Obama and daughter Malia ride through the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest in West Tisbury on Friday. The President was joined by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Last Friday, on another gorgeous Martha’s Vineyard summer day, President and Ms. Obama and their daughter, Malia, behaved like any other vacationing family — the difference being a train of SUVs, reporters and Secret Service agents — and went for a bike ride in the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest.

The traveling press pool traveled by van a few miles to a scenic spot on the bike path and waited for a fleeting glimpse of the bicycle-riding first family. Mr. Obama, the first lady, and Malia passed by, pedaling at a leisurely pace. “Hey guys, nice day, huh?” Mr. Obama said to the pool.

All three were decked out in athletic wear, with Ms. Obama in gray spandex capri pants and a short-sleeved top. Malia wore running shorts and a black tee-shirt.

The president wore a black athletic shirt, dark gray pants, white socks, and black Nikes. All three wore bike helmets. A phalanx of Secret Service agents followed closely behind.

The press pool saw the first family for only seconds as they made their way down the path.

President Obama’s motorcade departed at 12:33 pm, a little less than an hour after arriving at the bike path.

Ten minutes later, the president arrived at Farm Neck Golf Club, his third trip to the popular Oak Bluffs course since his arrival on August 9. His golf partners that day, according to the White House, were Mr. Hutchins, Mr. Walker, and Robert Wolf.

President Obama is scheduled to depart the Island this Sunday, August 24.