On Saturday sometime just after noon Marine One will touch down on the tarmac at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport carrying its precious cargo: the president of the United States and his family. And another presidential vacation will begin.
This year marks the fifth time President Obama will spend his August vacation on the Island during his presidency, and the vacation is expected to be much like all the other ones that preceded it: A lot of down time, dinners with friends, both in and out of the rented house in Chilmark that the First Family will call home for the next two weeks. There will be trips to the beach, possibly some shopping, likely a little basketball, certainly a lot of golf — because this president is known to have an affinity for the links.
And as they have in the past, Islanders will accommodate him, allowing him some privacy and also gathering with excitement when he ventures out, perhaps hoping for a handshake or a picture of him on their cell phone. Something to save for the grandchildren.
President Obama comes to a Vineyard that is at once unchanged and changing. Slow recovery from a prolonged national economic recession is beginning to be felt this summer, with brisk tourist trade and business up in many sectors. But beneath the surface of robust commerce lie deeper problems that mirror many of the national issues of the day: few permanent jobs, a middle class under pressure with skyrocketing housing costs and a community beset by social ills, including drug and alcohol dependence.
The country and the world are beset with intractable problems.
Like the rest of us, the president needs some relief, and we’re proud to share with him the gem that is August on the Vineyard. The azure ocean waters invite swimming, woodlands are hushed and cool and filled with late summer birdsong, and downtown streets are beehives of wandering tourists toting shopping bags and ice cream cones.
Welcome to the Vineyard, President Obama.