WASHINGTON — President Obama and first lady Michelle, vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard, played tennis together Monday and are hanging out on the island with Chicago pals Valerie Jarrett and Eric Whitaker.
The first couple and daughters Sasha and Malia are renting the Blue Heron Farm, a posh 28-acre waterfront estate on the island. They arrived Sunday, delayed a day in order to let Hurricane Bill blow over. Bo the dog was along on Air Force One, as was Jarrett and Obama’s half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng and her family, who have moved temporarily from Hawaii to Washington.
The thought was Obama was not going to be making news, but a president has no real days off. Obama this morning will be at the summer White House press center, likely to announce the reappointment of Ben Bernanke as the Federal Reserve Board chairman.
Otherwise, said Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton, Obama is not trying to put much on the schedule, though he will continue to get briefings and will be monitoring the health care debate.
“You know, you wake up, you have some breakfast, you work out, and then you decide, what do I feel like doing today? He’s doing that just like anybody else,” Burton said.
Besides working out and tennis, Obama is golfing — Whitaker, an executive at the University of Chicago Medical Center and UBS Bank President Robert Wolf were in a foursome — and reading. Burton rolled out Obama’s five-book vacation reading list. And the titles are . . .
1. The Way Home, by George Pelecanos
2. Tom Friedman’s Hot, Flat and Crowded
3. Richard Price’s Lush Life
4. Former SIU faculty member Kent Haruf’s Plainsong
5. John Adams, by David McCullough
Martha’s Vineyard is a premier vacation destination off the coast of Massachusetts, notable for many reasons, including that it it has been a summer home for generations of a who’s who of African Americans.
Jarrett is a senior White House adviser who summered on Martha’s Vineyard as a kid and hosted the Obama family in her rented home there in 2004 and 2007. Obama, said Burton, has been on Martha’s Vineyard five or six times over 10 years. ”He enjoys it. The beaches are nice.”
While Whitaker is along on the vacation, another close Chicago buddy is not — Marty Nesbitt. However, the Nesbitt family, who live near the Obama Kenwood home, rented a place in Washington to spend most of July near the White House.
Burton said the Obama family had dinner Sunday night with Jarrett and her daughter Laura, a Harvard Law School student.
The Obama family has asked the press — at least twice through its spokesmen — not to tail Sasha and Malia. But the AP reported that Obama, while on the links, told a crowd that gathered that the girls were off swimming while he was playing golf.
Republicans are complaining that Obama is on vacation.
Replied Burton, “As I recall, the previous president actually had taken quite a bit of vacation himself, and I don’t think that anyone bemoaned that, or bemoans this president trying to take some time with his family to recharge his batteries and get ready for the fight ahead.”