Obama back at White House after summer 'vacation'

By Darlene Superville, Associated Press

Published: Sun, Aug. 24, 2014, 12:00 a.m. MDT

 President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave as they board Air Force One at the Cape Cod Coast Guard Station in Bourne, Mass., Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, en route to Washington.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave as they board Air Force One at the Cape Cod Coast Guard Station in Bourne, Mass., Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, en route to Washington.

(Stew Milne, Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — The "vacation" is over and it's back to the White House for President Barack Obama.

Obama, who returned to Washington late Sunday after two weeks on the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard, will have to decide whether the recent beheading of an American by Islamic State militants is reason enough to take a step he has long resisted taking.

Obama has avoided intervening militarily in Syria for three years despite the rising death toll in the country's civil war, the government's use of chemical weapons against civilians and the rise of the Islamic State group amid the chaos there.

The president's own military leaders and some of his critics in Congress are pressuring him to go into Syria in an effort to defeat the group.

White House officials have suggested that military airstrikes in Syria are an option, though the officials say specific military proposals have yet to be presented to the president.

Obama's attempt at rest and relaxation was largely overtaken by events involving Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, including the videotaped killing of a U.S. journalist they had been holding hostage. The unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, after the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man was another major source of concern for Obama and his advisers.

Criticized for being away from Washington under the circumstances, Obama broke from his vacation to deliver statements on Iraq, Missouri and journalist James Foley on four occasions, including one delivered during two days he spent at the White House in the middle of the getaway. The unusual mid-vacation return to Washington had been scheduled before those issues came to dominate the news.

Still, in the midst of daily briefings, telephone conversations with world leaders and other responsibilities, Obama squeezed in nine rounds of golf on an island he has turned into his summer presidential retreat while shrugging off the criticism about how he was spending the time.

Obama was briefed Sunday on the release of another American who was being held hostage in Syria by an al-Qaida linked group, as well as an earthquake in California. Before leaving the island, he and his wife, Michelle, went hiking with friends the White House did not identify.

Obama also telephoned Darold Butler, manager of the Jackie Robinson West All Stars Little League team from Chicago. The president praised the young baseball players for the way they represented his hometown in the Little League World Series. Chicago lost to South Korea in Sunday's championship game.

Obama will not spend much time at the White House in the coming weeks.

He is scheduled to address the American Legion convention on Tuesday in Charlotte, North Carolina, and help raise money for Democratic candidates at fundraisers Friday in New York and Rhode Island.

Travel to Estonia and attendance at a NATO summit in Wales begins immediately after Labor Day. The trip is expected to focus on U.S. and European concerns over Russia's provocations toward Ukraine.

AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace contributed to this report.

Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap

1. worf
Mcallen, TX,
Aug. 24, 2014

When's the next fund raiser?

2. Irony Guy
Bountiful, Utah,
Aug. 24, 2014

No president is ever really on vacation. The nuclear football follows him everywhere. It's even just outside the bathroom.

3. GaryO
Virginia Beach, VA,
Aug. 24, 2014

Well . . . Back to work . . . No Drama Obama who got Osama has to bet back to the business of saving the world and dealing with the mess GW made.

Of course, BHO is always available even when he's on vacation too.

. . . Darn cell phones . . . and that suitcase with the nuclear button.

BHO won't be able to take a real vacation until 2017 . . . When he's writing his memoirs, and the next Democratic administration continues the never-ending job . . . Of cleaning up the ever-accruing damage generated by GW's decisions.

GW's legacy is like toxic waste. The ill effects will be felt for years.

4. patriot
Cedar Hills, UT,
Aug. 24, 2014

re:Irony Guy

"No president is ever really on vacation"

I think this is very true with the exception of Barack. His level of dis-engagement is stunning even to many Democrats in congress.

5. high school fan
Huntington, UT,
Aug. 24, 2014

I just think it is amazing that the Obamas never go home to Chicago. The Bush's to Texas and Maine, Carter to Georgia, lLBJ to Texas, Kennedy to Massachusetts, Nixon and Reagan to California' but Obama never to Illinois. I guess that is not a real vacation.