No White House confirmation of Obama visit, but stories aplenty
The rumors began circulating here in March. President Barack Obama planned to vacation on Martha's Vineyard in August, sources tied to caterers told The Martha's Vineyard Times.
To paraphrase Captain Reynault in the film Casablanca, it was time to call the usual suspects - the business people and police most likely to play a role in the preparations for any presidential visit.
Oak Bluffs police said then that they had heard the rumors but had not been contacted by any White House officials. Peter Martell, owner of the Wesley House in Oak Bluffs, the resting place for Secret Service agents during past presidential visits, said he knew of no visit.
On April 7, the Boston Globe reported, "Word is the Obamas have rented a house for two weeks at the end of August in the East Chop neighborhood of Oak Bluffs. The broadsheet gossip columnist did not cite any sources, but the Cape Cod Times, FOX News, and several other outlets picked up the Globe story and ran with it for all it was worth.
In a telephone call that same week, a White House official speaking on background, told The Martha's Vineyard Times that President Obama had no plans to vacation on Martha's Vineyard in August, or indeed, to vacation anywhere else. The president would not be taking a vacation this summer, the White House official said.
Three months later the rumors of a Vineyard presidential visit are thicker than a bowl of Black Dog chowder. Island real estate brokers, hoteliers, and caterers are abuzz with talk about Secret Service agents and White House staff contacts. And the White House has modified its earlier denial of any summer vacation plans to a flat refusal to confirm that the Vineyard is the vacation destination.
The refusal by the White House or most anyone else in a position of authority to say anything official has done little to restrain the Internet-fueled news fission, in which one report generates other reports in newspapers around the globe.
The latest round of Vineyard-vacation-destination stories began last week. News reports combined tidbits of information and gossip gleaned from Island sources with descriptions of a Martha's Vineyard that some year-round Islanders might not recognize, one filled with celebrities, tee times, and fancy dinners.
The Vineyard Gazette on Friday reported that the Obamas have narrowed a long list of properties to three private residential compounds and, "in a striking departure from the Clinton Summer White House years" intend to rent property.
The Gazette also reported that the President and his family would remain on the Island "for less than two weeks, as they seek much needed rest." The Edgartown weekly cited no sources regarding presidential fatigue after seven months in office or his rental arrangement.
Also Friday, the British newspaper, the Daily Telegraph carried the following headline: "Barack Obama to spend holidays in Martha's Vineyard," followed by this description, "Martha's Vineyard is America's classiest summer playground and has been a favourite with Democratic presidents stretching from Kennedy to Clinton."