WASHINGTON, July 29, 2013 — The $21.9 million home on Martha’s Vineyard where he vacationed in past summers is unavailable, so President Obama has decided to downsize a bit to a $7.6 million house, owned by a multimillionaire Chicago financier.
The Blue Heron Farm in Chilmark, where the Obamas previously stayed, was sold to British architect Lord Norman Foster. Still, Obama will be almost around the corner in his new digs.
Of course, already the eyebrows are going up and the clucking of the chattering class has started: “How dare he vacation in luxury during the sequester?” “Doesn’t Obama know that government employees are on furloughs?”
Presidents always take vacations, looking for a respite from the grind of Washington. Just look at how they age once they step into the White House. And yes, they need retreats from sturm and drang of politics, but doubtless they can’t really escape it except to swing a golf club or shoot a few hoops for a couple of hours. So why do we begrudge our Presidents vacations, whether they be President George W. Bush or President Obama?
Whether they are escaping to a little island sanctuary in the Atlantic or stuck behind the desk in the Oval Office, the sequester drags on and the furloughs continue until Congress does something.
And what is Congress doing? Its members are off on a five-week — not an eight-day — vacation, and you can bet they are going someplace really nifty, also.
So where is this little island idyll that the Obamas are headed to?
Martha’s Vineyard is a small island tucked just off the coast of Cape Cod and has become the playground to the rich and the famous from Jacquie Kennedy Onassis and Bill and Hillary Clinton to Spike Lee and Bill Murray. The village of Chilmark where the Obamas will be staying is one of the most exclusive. While not as grand a house as the last vacation home they stayed in, it is not without its delights.
Of course, it has extensive water views, perched on 9.5 acres, complete with a basketball court (naturally), tennis courts, and swimming pools. Architect Rick Sundberg describes the place “as a low group of buildings connected by porches, terraces, and patios and accommodates a variety of private and public functions, blends indoor and outdoor living, and maximizes the spectacular views of Chilmark Pond, the ocean, and the rural and glacial landscape throughout.” And it is obviously very private.
The Obamas will spend eight days there from August 10 through August 18. But while it is tucked away, the Obamas will not be alone, not with 70 plus staffers and Secret Security accompanying them.
They won’t be bunking with the President in Chilmark, but they will bedding down not far away at the Wesley Hotel in Oak Bluffs.
And yes, it costs money, lots of it for the First Family to go anywhere, and yes, we taxpayers pick up the tab, but it seems the least we can do for any of our presidents, whether his name is Ronald Reagan or Barack Obama.
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