Friday 17 January 2020

Crisis forces Obama to return to White House from break

US President Barack Obama goes biking with his wife Michelle and daughter Malia at Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts during their annual summer vacation on the island. Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
US President Barack Obama goes biking with his wife Michelle and daughter Malia at Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts during their annual summer vacation on the island. Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

Julie Pace

President Barack Obama interrupted his holidays to return to Washington last night for unspecified meetings with Vice President Joe Biden and other advisers.

The White House has been cagey about why the president needs to be back in Washington for those discussions.

But part of the decision appears to be aimed at countering the criticism that Mr Obama is spending two weeks on a resort island in the midst of so many foreign and domestic crises.

Yet those crises turned the first week of Mr Obama's vacation into a working holiday. He made on-camera statements on both US military action in Iraq and the clashes between police and protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. He also called foreign leaders to discuss 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.

Mr Obama is scheduled to return to Martha's Vineyard tomorrow and stay through next weekend.

Even though work has occupied much of Mr Obama's first week on vacation, he still found plenty of time to play golf, go to the beach with his family and go out to dinner on the island. He also 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 Mr Obama's vacation. Just as he 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 Mr Obama's foreign policy.

Mrs Clinton later promised she and Mr Obama would "hug it out".

No reporters were allowed in, so it's not clear whether there was any hugging.

Irish Independent

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