The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

The bear is loose: Obama seeks opportunities to break out of confining White House bubble

  • Print

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - It's perhaps appropriate that President Barack Obama is vacationing this weekend in California, where the state flag features a roaming grizzly.

The restless president, who has compared himself to a caged animal on recent wanderings by declaring the "bear is loose," took a long Father's Day weekend away with his wife and older daughter.

The visit to the desert resort area of Palm Springs is one of the ways Obama has been trying to escape during his sixth year cloistered in the White House.

"I think frankly we've all been through a cold and bitter winter and the bear has cabin fever," said Obama friend and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. "His cabin is a little bit bigger and harder to escape than most."

Obama has fantasized about being "on a beach somewhere drinking out of a coconut" or simply being able to walk out of the White House gate and stroll around unrecognized.

In California, Obama has worked out mornings at a gym near the Rancho Mirage home where the first family is staying with White House decorator Michael Smith and his partner, James Costos, the American ambassador to Spain.

The hilltop home has sweeping views, a private tennis court and trapezoid swimming pool. Despite temperatures above 100 degrees, Obama was able to golf at two nearby courses — Saturday at the Sunnylands estate and Sunday at the Porcupine Creek Estate owned by software billionaire Larry Ellison.

Obama interspersed his four-day weekend with official duties, including Democratic Party fundraising, a speech on climate change and calls to his national security adviser discussing military options to stop a violent insurgency in Iraq. As his administration announced that some staff were being evacuated from the Baghdad embassy, Obama was on the golf course.

Obama seemed determined not to let the crisis overseas keep him from getting a break, in a time-honoured tradition of presidents going on working vacations even as some question the optics.

"Sometimes when all of the brown stuff is hitting the rotating blades, a vacation is not the best thing to go on," said Dana Perino, who was President George W. Bush's press secretary.

She speaks from experience — Bush vacationed during Hurricane Katrina and made frequent visits to Camp David or his Texas ranch to fulfil his desire to get outdoors.

"There were times the president wanted to go on a bike ride," Perino said, "but I'd have to say, 'Mr. President, there was a bombing in Iraq,' or 'The markets are tanking.'"

Obama has taken three weekends away in a golf-friendly place this year after kicking off 2014 on the links in Hawaii.

The Obama family also is planning a longer-than-usual summer vacation to Martha's Vineyard for two weeks in August, where last summer the president golfed nearly every day on the island.

Obama has golfed every weekend since Washington's weather got clear enough to allow it in April, save a week when he was in Asia.

Those close to Obama say his frequent golf outings are less about a love of the game than a desire to take a long walk outside. Obama also has been seen walking the darkened White House grounds, late into the evening, sometime with one of his dogs.

Last week Obama left his security detail, staff and press corps scrambling with the simple act of spontaneously walking about 350 yards from the West Wing to Starbucks. He told reporters who rushed to catch up with him to give him some space.

The next day, unannounced, he took Education Secretary Arne Duncan out for a burger. He also recently stopped by a Little League game and walked to an event at the Interior Department near the White House, shaking hands with surprised tourists along the way.

"I might walk up to the Lincoln Memorial, sit on there," Obama said when asked on the "Live with Kelly and Michael" talk show what he would choose if he could do anything unrecognized. "Maybe I'd wander around and find myself at a little outdoor cafe or something and sit and order something and just watch people go by. The thing you miss most about being president is anonymity."

___

Follow Nedra Pickler on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nedrapickler

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Winnipeg Cheapskate: School supply shopping

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press.  Local/Weather Standup- Catching rays. Prairie Dog stretches out at Fort Whyte Centre. Fort Whyte has a Prairie Dog enclosure with aprox. 20 dogs young and old. 060607.
  • STDUP ‚Äì Beautiful West End  begins it's summer of bloom with boulevard s, front yards  and even back lane gardens ,  coming alive with flowers , daisies and poppies  dress up a backyard lane on Camden St near Wolseley Ave  KEN GIGLIOTTI  / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  /  June 26 2012

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What do you think of the new Blue Bombers uniforms?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google