President Barack Obama started his vacation on the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard with just one of his daughters, and he may leave with just one of his daughters when the two-week getaway ends next weekend. In a first for Obama family summer vacations, neither teenager is spending the entire holiday with her father.
Obama left Washington Aug. 9 with his wife, Michelle, daughter Malia, and the family’s two Portuguese water dogs. The White House said 13-year-old Sasha would join her parents at a later date for “part of their stay” on this quaint island of shingled homes. But Malia will not be around when her younger sister arrives.
The daughters essentially are trading places, and the vacation is boiling down to Obama getting about a week with each one.
Malia, 16, returned to Washington with her father early Monday and was not expected to go back to Martha’s Vineyard. The White House said Sasha will join her parents this week, without saying when she will arrive or what kept her away last week, or why Malia left the island.
Obama often draws chuckles from sympathetic parents who understand his complaints about his girls’ lack of interest in spending time with him.
“What I’m discovering is that each year, I get more excited about spending time with them. They get a little less excited,” Obama told CNN last year.
Obama plans to return to Martha’s Vineyard on Tuesday evening, after leaving the island midway through the getaway to spend two days in meetings at the White House. Vacation ends Aug. 24.
The girls’ absence from the vacation is yet another reminder of the time that has passed since Obama became president. Ages 10 and 7, respectively, when they moved to the White House in 2009, Malia and Sasha are older now and increasingly leading busy lives apart from their parents.
Last summer, the president and first lady were first to arrive on the island for vacation. The daughters came together later in the week for the tail end.
While Obama is in Washington on Monday and Tuesday, he is supposed to meet with White House staffers who stayed in town. He’ll also meet over lunch with Vice President Joe Biden, who has taken several vacations in recent weeks with his wife, Jill, to Wyoming and to beaches on New York’s Long Island and in Delaware.
Word that Obama was interrupting his vacation to return to Washington set off a guessing game after White House spokesman Josh Earnest initially declined to state a reason. Earnest later said the interruption was so the president could attend “in-person” meetings with staff.
White House spokesman Eric Schultz last week sought to further dampen the speculation, saying “we don’t anticipate any major, significant news developments out of Washington those few days.” Schultz also ruled out an announcement by Obama on using his presidential powers to make changes to the immigration system.
Obama’s retreat to Martha’s Vineyard was not the first family vacation without Sasha. In June, Sasha skipped a family Father’s Day weekend in Southern California.