The Obamas and Bo kick back on Martha’s Vineyard

The Obamas arrive at Martha's Vineyard on Sunday.
President Obama and his family are hoping for a chance to unwind during their weeklong getaway to Martha’s Vineyard.

The first family, along with Obama’s sister Maya Soetoro-Ng and the first dog Bo, arrived on the Massachusetts island Sunday. The Obamas are staying at a secluded 28-acre private estate. The No. 1 priority on Obama’s vacation agenda is “To get a little break,” White House spokesman Bill Burton said Monday. “He certainly appreciates the hospitality of the folks who are here. But his desire here is to relax and spend time with the family.” The president squeezed in a workout and some tennis with wife Michelle before hitting the golf course Monday. Rep. James Clyburn, D-South Carolina; Robert Wolf, the chief executive of UBS; and White House aide Marvin Nicholson were expected to join the president on the links, although reporters following the game didn’t see Clyburn. Close friend Eric Whitaker, however, was spotted on the course. The president waved to the crowd that had gathered to watch him tee off, and a little boy was heard yelling, “Hi, Obama!” On Sunday, Obama dined with senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and her daughter. Burton shot down rumors that the president has plans to golf with Tiger Woods this week, telling reporters that “nothing like that is on the schedule.” Burton also said there are no plans for Obama to visit the ailing Sen. Ted Kennedy, who is just across the Nantucket Sound on Cape Cod.

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What Obama is reading on the Vineyard

In addition to spending time with family and playing golf, Obama’s hopes to hit the books, Burton said. The president’s reading list includes five books: “The Way Home” by George Pelecanos, “Hot, Flat, and Crowded” by Thomas Friedman, “Lush Life” by Richard Price, “Plainsong” by Kent Haruf and “John Adams” by David McCullough. In all, the books on Obama’s list total around 2,300 pages, meaning the president would have to read close to 300 pages each day to polish off the list. As for the rest of the week, Burton offered few details, saying the president himself doesn’t even have a particular schedule. “He’s on vacation, so everything is a little bit loose,” he said. “You wake up, you have some breakfast, you workout and then you decide ‘What do I feel like doing today’ He’s doing that just like anybody else.” The president will be getting a daily briefing. A member of the national security staff is on the island, and Obama also will receive briefings by paper. If necessary, he’ll have teleconferences with his advisers in Washington, Burton said. Obama’s first vacation since taking office comes as voters across the country are jumping in on the emotionally charged debate over health care reform. Burton said the president will talk to his advisers about the issue as needed, but has a lot of faith in his team working at the White House. “So the president thinks that there is still a real possibility of getting a bipartisan plan through. He’s going to continue to work towards that end,” Burton said. While there are no calls on the schedule, Burton said the president might make calls to individual members of Congress on health care “as appropriate.” En route to Martha’s Vineyard on Sunday, Burton offered two instructions from Obama to the reporters who are also on the island.

“He wants you to relax and have a good time. Take some walks on the beaches. Nobody is looking to make any news, so he’s hoping that you guys can enjoy Martha’s Vineyard while we’re there. “And the second thing I’ll say is, of course, the first family would very much appreciate if you respect the privacy of the girls while they’re out here on vacation,” Burton said.