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Tag Archives: Martha’s Vineyard 2014

It’s Not About “Optics”

President Obama was ready with excuses for Chuck Todd when asked on Meet the Press about his decision to immediately head for the golf course after making a statement last month about James Foley, who was murdered by ISIS. By the time Obama was done, you could almost be convinced he had DONE THE RIGHT THING.

The president claims a public relations mistake. But this is really something more profound, and unfortunately, typically disillusioning.

Not that I had illusions.

From the show, which was broadcast Sunday:

CHUCK TODD: I’ve got to ask, so during that vacation, you made the statement on Foley, you went and golfed. Do you want that back?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: It is always a challenge when you’re supposed to be on vacation because you’re followed everywhere. And part of what I’d love is a vacation from the press . . .

Because the possibility of a jarring contrast given the world’s news, there’s always going to be some tough news somewhere, it’s going to be there. But there’s no doubt that after having talked to the families, where it was hard for me to hold back tears listening to the pain that they were going through after the statement that I made, that I should’ve anticipated the optics.

That’s part of the job. And I think everybody who knows me, including, I suspect, the press, understands that you take this stuff in and it’s serious business. And you care about it deeply. But part of this job is also the theater of it. Part of it is how are you–

TODD: You hate that you–

OBAMA: Well, it’s not something that always comes naturally to me. But it matters. And I’m mindful of that. So the important thing is in addition to that, is am I getting the policies right? Am I protecting the American people? Am I doing what’s necessary?

What self-serving goop.

This man, who gave a speech at the Berlin Wall before being elected, for God’s sake, claims not to understand political theater. What he is telling us is, I’m so much better than optics and phoniness. But I realize I have to descend into phoniness sometimes, and it’s my bad for not lowering myself to the task.

Let’s review what happened here. From the pool report for that day:

The president walked quietly into the cafeteria of the school, tieless but wearing a blue jacket. Eric Schultz accompanied him. Obama stepped to a podium and delivered his remarks, then turned quietly and walked out of the room. The room was silent as he did.

Afterward, the motorcade drove to the Vineyard Golf Club.

He’s was on the golf course within minutes of a solemn statement. In fact, he made the statement as close as possible to the club, so there would be no delay.

This wasn’t about optics. This was a failure of leadership. You don’t console the country with a tribute to a murdered American and then go golfing. I don’t remember Bush making excuses about being uncomfortable with “optics” after he did this.

Obama failed to own up to his mistake. The president talks about having tears in his eyes while on the phone with Foley’s family, to prove that he in fact does care. What he doesn’t understand is that this is not about him. It’s about the country.

None of his presidency should be about him, but all of it is.

Obama’s problem is not that he is better than a mere politician. His problem is that he doesn’t appreciate and understand the office he holds.

If you are a leader, you lead. If you care about the job of President of the United States, it wouldn’t occur to you to make an important statement to a shocked and saddened nation, and then hit the links.

You might even forgo golf for a whole day, who knows?

Obama Opts for Late Checkout

What? President Obama didn’t depart his Martha’s Vineyard vacation home until 8:05 pm ET last night.

Doesn’t that get him into the next day’s charges? I mean, anytime I’ve bargained for a late checkout, I’ve had to weep at the ankles of the front desk lady for ten minutes just get my time extended until noon.

Anyway, this got him back to the White House at 10:21 pm. Touching down with him on the South Lawn via Marine One – following the Air Force One flight from Cape Cod – were Michelle, Malia, Valerie Jarrett, Deputy Chief of Staff Kristie Canegallo and White House Trip Director/Official Obama Golf Buddy Marvin Nicholson.

The pool reporter reported:

The first family, all holding hands, entered the Diplomatic Room doors at 10:23 pm . . .

The departure (from Martha’s Vineyard) comes after 15 days, three presidential statements, two briefings, nine rounds of golf, two hikes, three dinners out, a party with Hillary, one night of fireworks.

The nine rounds – effectively giving the giant finger to everyone who said he sent the wrong message to our friends and enemies during a time of turmoil by golfing incessantly – brings us to 36 for the year and 193 for the presidency.

Late arrival Sunday evening of course resulted in what appears to be a late start at the office Monday morning, as some of you have noticed. Actually, 10:30 am, when he received the Presidential Daily Briefing today, ain’t much different than the usual.

Just for a vacation keepsake, here’s some video of Obama missing a putt during his vacation.

Biking and then . . . Well What Do You Think?

An Obama family vacation is an exercise in rituals – box checking if you want to be mean about it – and one of the sacred rites on the Martha’s Vineyard vacation, along with a trip to the beach and a look through the bookstore, is The Bike Ride.

This has not always worked out well for the president, as he looks not quite as natural as the lady Obamas on The Bike Ride. Actually, he’s been accused of looking like he might be a lady himself.

Lately, he’s been doing better. Here’s the unofficial press pool tweet by today’s pooler, Colleen Nelson of the Wall Street Journal.

Obama bike Martha's Vineyard

Not bad at all! Nice, hip-dad look.

The White House says that Obama, the First Lady and Malia are biking on the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest bike path outside West Tisbury. Not sure where Sasha is. Not even sure if she’s with them at all.

From the pool report:

The paved bike path cuts through a heavily wooded area, offering a shady ride on this picture-perfect day.

Obama, the First Lady and Malia passed by, pedaling at a leisurely pace. “Hey guys, nice day, huh?” Obama said to the pool.

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

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

The pool saw the president and family for only seconds as they continued to make their way down the path.

After an hour or so, it was enough biking, and Obama headed directly for the golf course. He’s back at the Farm Neck Golf Club.

With him are Glenn Hutchins, a Democratic fat cat donor who owns part of the Boston Celtics, Robert Wolf, another Democratic fat cat who was invited back after golfing with Obama Monday, and Cy Walker, Obama’s new BFF who is playing golf with the president constantly on the Vineyard. Walker is Valerie Jarrett’s cousin.

It is Obama’s fifth time playing in seven days on vacation, his 32nd outing of the year, and the 189th of his presidency.

White House: “A Good Time Was Had By All”

That’s the best we can get out of the White House about how things went down with the awkward encounter between President Obama and Hillary Clinton at a Martha’s Vineyard A-List gathering just days after she dissed his foreign policy.

Hillary told reporters before the party, a celebration of Democratic political fixer Vernon Jordan’s wife’s birthday, that the disagreement was no biggie, even though in an interview with the Atlantic she had accused him of basically creating the ISIS movement by not supporting moderates in Syria and suggested the Obama Doctrine for foreign policy amounted to “Don’t do stupid stuff.”

Sounds, uh, a little sharp.

“We have disagreements as any partners and friends, as we are, might very well have,” Clinton told reporters on Wednesday. ”But I’m proud that I served with him and for him, and I’m looking forward to seeing him tonight.”

They planned, according to Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said, to hug it out.

I wonder if the leaders of other world powers ride pink bikes and “hug it out.” Do Putin and Medvedev “hug it out” when they have a disagreement? More likely they go shooting Siberian tigers together.

She phoned Obama beforehand to say “that nothing she said was an attempt to attack him, his policies, or his leadership,” according to Merrill, which is obviously a lie. I assume he realized it.

Here she is Wednesday ducking an offer from ABC’s Jonathan Karl to dig herself deeper.

Anyway, from the White House deputy press secretary:

Tonight, the President and First Lady attended the birthday celebration for Mrs. Ann Jordan at an event at the Farm Neck Golf Club. There were approximately 150 guests in attendance.

Among the attendees seated with the Jordans and the President and First Lady were former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Valerie Jarrett and her mother Mrs. Barbara Bowman, Ursula Burns, Kenneth Chenault and his wife Kathy, along with other friends and family of Mrs. Jordan. President Obama honored Mrs. Jordan with a toast before dinner, as did Mr. Jordan and Secretary Clinton and others. The President and First Lady have known the Jordans for over twenty years, and were grateful to have been able to share this special evening with them.

The President and First Lady also were happy to have the chance to spend time with Secretary Clinton and former President Clinton.

A little color: in his toast for Mrs. Jordan, President quipped that he met Vernon and first, but liked Ann more. The menu consisted of surf and turf and pasta. The Obamas danced nearly every song. A good time was had by all.

Obama did nothing else Wednesday, holing up at the house because apparently his golf was rained out and it seems didn’t have alternative plans.

On Vacation, Obama Indulges in the Sweet Life

Yes, literally.

President Obama Tuesday dined, as he has on previous Martha’s Vineyard sojourns, at the Sweet Life Cafe, another Obama destination off limits to the 99 percent.

You know your wallet is in for a good cleansing when the menu doesn’t list prices. Always a bad sign. Monsieur, let’s not discuss anything as tacky as the price. It’s only money. 

Sweet Life

There it is. Ahh, the Sweet Life.

Here’s what the president had to choose from.

Pan Seared Halibut
Fennel nage, baby arugula, olive cake, orange, black mission figs

Lamb Three Ways
Seared loin, merguez sausage, sweetbreads, harissa quinoa, broccoli rabe, caramelized onions

Sesame and Coriander Crusted Tuna
Mushroom lime broth, pickled escarole, summer bean salad, chili vinaigrette

Roasted Beef Tenderloin
Smoked potato gratin, swiss chard, porcini mushrooms, crispy onions, dijon jus

Seared Sea Scallops
Corn risotto, tomato and corn salsa, parsley emulsion

Braised Pork Cheek
Braised collards, cabbage slaw, miso biscuits, Korean-style barbecue sauce

Artichoke Ravioli
Parmesan broth, miatake mushrooms, tomato conserva, roasted asparagus and favas

I don’t know about you, but I only take my mushrooms miatake or porcini and my parsley emulsified. And if I can’t get my lamb three ways, then I’m not having lamb at all.

Okay, he’s a wealthy guy – who really crashed into the dough once his books started selling as his political career took off, but I digress – and he has every right to go to such place. And would I refuse an invitation to the Sweet Life, assuming I wasn’t picking up the tab? No! But funny that he didn’t allow photographers along like he does when he hits up some burger joint on the road.

But he did bring along National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Attorney General Eric Holder, and former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and their spouses, who dined en masse with the Obamas.

Obama to Interrupt Vacation

President Obama will return to the White House for two days midway through his Martha’s Vineyard vacation to attend unspecified meetings at the White House.

The White House has given no reason for the sudden decision to return Obama to Washington. I can tell you, interrupting his vacation is not something Obama would do lightly. He must feel the need to deal with something important. I would be concerned.

Obama, who leaves for Martha’s Vineyard Saturday, will return to the White House on Sunday, Aug. 17, before resuming his vacation on Aug. 19. His vacation is still scheduled to end the following Sunday, August 24.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest today refused to say why Obama was returning. “Check back next week,” he said.