President Barack Obama is facing criticism from conservatives and liberal supporters over his 12-day Martha's Vineyard vacation in Chilmark, Massachusetts, which he started on Saturday, August 9, 2014 less than two days after announcing a new military and humanitarian mission in Iraq. The president, wife Michelle, and daughters, Malia 16 and Sasha, 13 along with family dogs Bo and Sunny will be partaking in the longest vacation in Obama's presidency as major foreign and domestic policy crisis rage at home and abroad. The Obamas will be in Martha's Vineyard from Saturday, Aug. 9 to Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014 only missing two days when he returns back to Washington from Aug. 17 to 19.
President Obama will spend most of vacation golfing or playing basketball. As the USA Today reported it not take the president but an hour until he was out golfing at his favorite vacation haunt the "Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs" with friends and golfing buddies "basketball star Ray Allen and retired football player-turned-broadcaster Ahmad Rashad," and "Cyrus Walker, the cousin of White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett." The vacation will not be all play as the president will continue his role as campaigner and fundraiser-in-chief attending a fundraiser on Monday, Aug. 11 for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
The quote "Nero fiddled while Rome burned" comes to mind when considering Obama's vacation in a time of varied crises, but should be updated to Obama golfed while the world faced war and disease. Breitbart News Network sarcastically described and criticized the president's vacation in an article entitled "Obamas Go on 12-Day Martha's Vineyard Vacation Amid Global Crises" published on Friday, Aug. 8 writing; "Amid an international Ebola health emergency, U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, and the illegal immigration crisis surging on the southern border, President Barack Obama leaves on Saturday for a lavish Martha's Vineyard twelve day vacation at the 8,100-square foot mansion of Democratic Party donor Joanne Hubschman."
It seems usual for Conservatives and Republicans to criticize the president, but as the Boston Globe reports even Democratic supporters feel uneasy about this vacation so close to a tough midterm election campaign with control of the Senate in the balance. The Globe writes; "Even some of Obama's most ardent supporters are questioning the wisdom of this summer's sojourn as war roils Gaza and a wave of families and children are crossing the southwestern US border illegally."
Trying to calm critics, the White House Press Secretary Josh Ernest announced at the daily press briefing on Thursday, Aug. 7 that the president will return to Washington for a few days for meetings with his staff and advisor from Sunday, Aug. 17 to Tuesday, Aug. 19. Earnest relayed; "This is an opportunity for the president to do some in-person meetings here at the White House, just for a day or two, before he returns to Martha's Vineyard."
Ernest also assured the press and public that Obama is never disconnected from his job or truly on vacation, saying; "He travels with an array of communications equipment and national security advisers that will allow him to perform all of the functions that are required of America's commander in chief."
Last year when President Obama vacationed his administration released photos and made it clear to the media that he continued to receive daily briefings on foreign and domestic policy, which will no doubtably continue during this vacation as well. Ernest also let the press know on Friday, Aug. 8 that despite President Obama ordering targeted airstrikes on Iraq, the president will not alter his vacation schedule, stating; "The President's schedule from Monday hasn't changed either."
President Obama is facing criticism as well for the posh home and location the first family is staying at. The Obama's are not renting your average home either, according to Martha's Vineyard Times they are staying at 72 Gosnold's Way, which of Prospect Hill Road again in Chilmark the home of Democratic donor Joanne Hubschman. MV Times describes it as a "seven-bedroom, nine-bath, 8,100-square-foot house, sits on a 10-acre lot and is assessed at more than $12 million." Additionally "it features 17 rooms in total, expansive water views of Vineyard Sound, an infinity pool and hot tub, and a dual tennis-basketball court."
The Obamas own a home in the South Side of Chicago, but Obama does not have an official vacation residence that is prepared for presidential business as the majority of recent previous presidents except for President Bill Clinton, that allowed vacationing presidents to easily conduct business in their offices away from the Oval Office.
The original White House announcement released on Wednesday, July 9 stated that "On Saturday, August 9th, the President and the First Lady will travel to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. They will remain there until Sunday, August 24th, when they will return to Washington, D.C. There are no public events scheduled at this time and further details on travel will be released when they are available." President Obama and the first family have been vacationing each August recess of his presidency, they skipped however, 2012 choosing to campaign for reelection instead.
Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. She covers US, Canadian & Israeli politics, with a particular focus on the Obama presidency, Congress, domestic policy, and elections.