Obama is spending fourteen days on a resort island in the middle of so many foreign and domestic crises.
In a rare move for him, the president took a break in the middle of his Martha’s Vineyard vacation to return to Washington just after midnight Monday for meetings with Vice President Joe Biden along with other advisers on the U.S. military campaign in Iraq and tensions between police and protesters in Ferguson, Missouri.
The White House has been cagey about why the president needs to be back in Washington for those discussions. He’s received multiple briefings on issues while on vacation. The White House had also already announced Obama’s plans to return to Washington before the U.S. airstrikes in Iraq began and prior to the shooting of a teen in Ferguson that sparked protests.
Part of the decision to head back to Washington appears targeted at countering criticism that Obama is spending fourteen days on a resort island in the middle of so many foreign and domestic crises.
Yet those crises turned the first week of Obama‘s vacation into a working holiday. He made on-camera statements Iraq and also the clashes in Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb. He also called foreign leaders to go over the tensions between Ukraine and Russia, as well as between Israel and Hamas.
“I think it’s fair to say there are, of course, ongoing complicated situations in the world, and that’s why you’ve seen the president stay engaged,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.
Obama is scheduled to return to Martha’s Vineyard and stay through next weekend.
Even though work has occupied a lot of Obama‘s first week on holiday, he still found sufficient time to golf, go to the beach with his family and go out to dinner on the island.
He hit the golf course one more time Sunday ahead of his departure, joining two aides and former NBA player Alonzo Mourning to have an afternoon round. He then joined wife Michelle for an evening jazz performance featuring singer Rachelle Ferrell. They left for Washington late Sunday night.
Obama‘s vacation has also been infused with a dose of politics. He headlined a fundraiser on the island for Democratic Senate candidates and attended a birthday party for Democratic adviser Vernon Jordan’s wife, where he spent time with former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
That get-together between the former rivals-turned-partners added another complicated dynamic to Obama‘s vacation. Just like Obama was arriving on Martha’s Vineyard, an interview with the former secretary of state was published in which she levied some of her sharpest criticism of Obama‘s foreign policy.