Obama Heads To The ("Elitist, Liberal") Beach

Is the first family's vacation choice of Martha's Vineyard logical for privacy or a rub to financially struggling families?

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Like his Democratic predecessor, President Obama has chosen Martha's Vineyard, a quaint Massachusetts island that has traditionally played haven to the well-moneyed, as the destination for a week-long summer holiday. Opinions on the appropriateness of vacationing there during economic hard times have tended toward the critical, but also include commentary on what the effects of the first family's visit may have on the community.

  • Poor Choice say Robert J. Guttman and Emily Benavides in the Boston Globe. "In these days of high unemployment and financial stress, it is not the time to go to the exclusive island of Martha's Vineyard." They also offer up several alternative vacation spots: Elkhart, Indiana; Toledo, Ohio and Detroit. "You seem to own most of Detroit now, why not go check on your investment? ...While your there you can help any White House staffers trade their clunkers in, infusing the area with even more financial strength. With an unemployment rate that rose to 22.8%, Detroit could definitely use some of that Obama popularity to boost its economy."
  • Both Elitist and Populist, says Peter Nicholas at the L.A. Times. With the Obama's dual vacation--they're visiting the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park before heading to the Vineyard--he is "splitting the difference" in looking eliticst in a down-turned economy. Douglas Brinkley, a history professor at Rice University, says, "I would argue a president can never go wrong visiting Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. They are perhaps the two most significant points of national landscape pride." Though Nicholas also quotes Republican pollster, Chris Wilson, who says that the president is being disingenuous about his interest in the national parks. He says Obama will "jump out of the car, look at the Grand Canyon, then jump back in and head to the Vineyard."
  • For the Family is what Obama emphasized in his CBS News quote in Dan Eggan's Washington Post piece on Presidential vacations. Eggan broaches the point that the "luxuriousness of the getaway poses a political challenge for Obama at a time when many Americans are struggling with economic distress. Obama said in a recent interview that he thinks about the hardships facing Americans 'every single day,' but he also defended his vacation plans. 'Do I think the American people think that because of those hardships I shouldn't spend some quality time with my daughters?' Obama said on CBS News. 'I don't think that's what the American people think about it.'"
  • Hideaway for Celebrities and Democrats, argues the NY Times in its Room for Debate blog, which features seven voices commenting on the benefits of the island. Jill Nelson says it's "big enough to hide out on and small enough to do just about everything you want over a week’s vacation," and Skip Finley agrees, adding that the island is "a relatively safe place where celebrities can expect a shy smile or nod instead of an autograph request." Alan Dershowitz adds the island "is overwhelmingly Democratic, which assures a Democratic president a friendly reception as well as access to major contributors," and Charles J. Ogletree says it "has a rich tradition of providing a space for critical dialogue on race issues and serves as a gathering place for African-Americans dating back to Harlem Renaissance." Only John Harris argues for a cheaper destination. "As an editor who assigns a new generation of reporters on vacation with the president and signs their expense accounts, I’d vastly prefer that he find someplace a little more economy-minded."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.