Gulf oil spill and Iraqi combat behind him, President Obama takes vacation breakBy Glen Johnson, AP
Friday, August 20, 2010
Oil spill and Iraq combat over, Obama takes break
VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass. — Finally, President Barack Obama can relax on vacation.
The Gulf oil leak is plugged. The last combat troops are out of Iraq. And Congress is on its own summer break.
Still, doubts remain about the strength of the U.S. economy, and Obama tried to tamp them down before his 10-day vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. He called on lawmakers to pass a small business aid package when they return next month.
“A majority of senators are in favor of the bill and yet the obstruction continues,” he said before departing the White House on Thursday. “It’s obstruction that stands in the way of small business owners getting the loans and the tax cuts that they need to prosper. It’s obstruction that defies common sense.”
With that final jab at Republicans, he traded his suit coat and tie for an open collar, flew up to this island playground and settled into the 30-acre Blue Heron Farm, where the first family stayed last year.
First lady Michelle Obama traveled separately with daughters Sasha and Malia, after picking up 12-year-old Malia following two weeks at a summer camp. Family dog Bo also made the trip.
The White House said it was hoping for a news-free trip, but shortly after the president arrived, he announced a series of recess appointments. He filled four diplomatic and agency jobs under a temporary authority he gains while Congress is on recess, and he blamed Republicans for forcing him to bypass the normal confirmation process.
“At a time when our nation faces so many pressing challenges, I urge members of the Senate to stop playing politics with our highly qualified nominees, and fulfill their responsibilities of advice and consent,” the president said in a statement. “Until they do, I reserve the right to act within my authority to do what is best for the American people.”
Martha’s Vineyard has previously played host not only to Obama, but also two other presidents, Bill Clinton and Ulysses S. Grant. It has been a traditional gathering point for affluent African-Americans, and Obama visited even before he was elected the country’s first black president in 2008.
“It’s a beautiful part of the country. It has really nice beaches and the folks are really great. The food is terrific,” deputy press secretary Bill Burton told reporters aboard Air Force One. “And it’s someplace that the president went before he was president and likes to go back, because it’s a comfortable place where he can rest and recharge the batteries a little bit.”
The spokesman said he expected the president to indulge in golfing, beach time and a visit or two to the island’s numerous ice cream stands.
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