On Sunday President Barack Obama, his extended family and an entourage of friends and colleagues, arrived in a "New England paradise," Martha's Vineyard, for a much-deserved vacation.
I have never been to Martha’s Vineyard – or as the locals up there call it, the “Vineyard.”
And not because it is – as The New York Times explained – “the exclusive haven of the Eastern liberal elite that conservatives tar as an exclusive haven of the Eastern liberal elite.”
No, it is a simple matter that it is too far away. Not to mention, that according to an April 6, 2007, article in The Vineyard Gazette: “The cost of living on Martha's Vineyard is about 60 per cent above the national average…”
You see, the 10-mile-wide by 23-mile-long island (as in surrounded by a moat) off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in an area known as the “Outer Lands regions,” is priced at the outer limits for commoners.
The traditional media has been, well, giddy about the president taking a vacation. To be certain, of course, it is a good idea for the president to do just that.
I said that when President George W. Bush was president and nothing has changed for anyone to arrive at a different conclusion.
Jill Nelson, the author of the satirical novel set on the Vineyard, “Let’s Get It On,” remarked that “Martha’s Vineyard is Alice’s Restaurant for the mind, body and soul: once you find it, you can get anything you want.”
Hopefully the president and his family will be able to get some peace and quiet, not to mention, some space from the media – unlike the vacations of President Bush.
Then again, can you imagine the reaction of the media if President Bush had decided to spend his summer vacation at a $35,000-per-week rented farmhouse on 28 acres bordering Tisbury Great Pond?
I really do not care where President Obama spends his vacation. Of course, it was expected that he would vacation in Hawaii, where he was born and lived for part of his childhood. Hence the greeting signs by the Vineyard islanders, “Aloha Obama Family.”
If you will recall, the media championed signs of a different sort when Cindy Sheehan greeted President Bush, in 2005, when the president vacationed on his own ranch in Texas.
As this column comes together, it has not been widely reported that Tuesday Ms. Sheehan anticipated joining the Obama family on the island, which is also known for where the classic 1975 film, “Jaws,” was filmed. Hopefully she will not take any rides in a 1967 Oldsmobile Delmont 88.
One wonders if the media will report upon her visit with the same delight as it exhibited during the vacation of President Bush in 2005.
Media watchdog Brent Baker reports that “Katie Couric, for instance, showcased Sheehan at the top of NBC's Today show: ‘A mother's vigil. Her son died in Iraq. Now this woman is camping outside the Bushes' Texas ranch and demanding a meeting with the President today, Monday, August 8th, 2005…’
“The next day, (Charles) Gibson, then co-host of ABC's morning show, led by touting: ‘Standing her ground. She lost her son in Iraq; she opposes the war, now she's camped out at President Bush's ranch and says she won't leave until he meets with her.’ ”
CBS “Anchor Bob Schieffer ruminated: ‘I wonder why the President doesn't meet with her?’ ”
“When Bush's motorcade drove by Sheehan's protest camp, CNN's Situation Room pounced with ‘BUSH WALKS ON BY’ and ‘PRES. BUSH PASSES UP CHANCE TO MEET WITH 'PEACE MOM’ on screen as reporter Elaine Quijano highlighted how Sheehan held up a sign saying, ‘Why do you make time for donors and not for me?'
“On ABC's World News Tonight, Geoff Morrell asked Sheehan: ‘Are you disappointed he didn't stop?’ ”
Well, we can only be sure that President Obama will also be encouraged, by the very same impartial media all-stars, to meet with Ms. Sheehan.
Oh, wait a minute, Mr. Baker calls to our attention that “The Washington Examiner's Byron York blogged last Thursday that ABC World News anchor Charles Gibson declared ‘enough already’ when asked on Chicago’s WLS Radio about Cindy Sheehan's plan to travel to President Barack Obama's Martha's Vineyard vacation spot next week to protest the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Mr. York observed how “that's a remarkably different stance from the one Gibson took four years ago.”
Then there is the matter of the criticism from the media that President Bush had the audacity to take a vacation in the first place.
The Wall Street Journal researched, “Here's a blast from the past. The New York Times, July 9, 2001, reports on George W. Bush's first summer vacation as president: ‘On Friday, as new unemployment figures painted a newly troubling portrait of the American economy, Mr. Bush placed himself in the same scenes – golfing and fishing in a New England paradise – that once caused his father electoral grief. Simply amazing.’ ”
The “newly troubling portrait of the American economy” in 2001 was the “unemployment rate was little changed at 4.5 percent, five-tenths of a percentage point higher than the average for 2000.”
As President Obama embarks upon his vacation among the nation’s elite “the most recent unemployment rate was 9.4%, more than double the summer 2001 figure,” however this time, The New York Times went to great lengths to explain that there is nothing “wrong with a president taking a vacation during a time of genuine crisis.”
It’s simply amazing what a difference the political party of the president makes. Then again, we are talking about “The Won.”
No word yet as to whether or not Ms. Sheehan and President Obama will meet at Cindy’s Restaurant for the mind, body and soul.
“Aloha Obama Family.”
Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.