Obama's First Hawaiian Vacation Dilemma
The Hill reported on Wednesday that President Barack Obama faces a "most difficult decision," namely whether to join his wife and children in Hawaii or to remain in Washington and, in the words of his dissembling press secretary, "to stay and work with Congress to ensure that Americans don't have their taxes go up."
Unreported by the Hill is that this is not the first Hawaiian vacation dilemma Obama has faced or the most difficult. Nor, as shall be seen, is it the first vacation dilemma he will have dissembled his way through.
In late December 1999, while on vacation in Hawaii, Illinois State Senator Obama missed a critical vote on a gun control measure. He had missed votes before -- many of them -- but now he was challenging former Black Panther Bobby Rush for his congressional seat.
When he caught heat from Rush and the media, Obama needed an alibi, and so he turned to the Hyde Park Herald. For some years he had been writing a semi-regular column about state capitol trivia for this neighborhood paper. Indeed, from the 1995 publication of his acclaimed memoir, Dreams From My Father, to its reissue in 2004, Obama had nothing in print beyond this humble column. Such was the petty political yoke to which our literary master had to harness his outsized talent during these fallow years.
To explain why he had gone to Hawaii, Obama cited the death of his mother, the death of his grandfather, and the subsequent loneliness of his ailing grandmother at Christmas time. To explain why he stayed -- "10-footers on the North Shore" having little currency in the hood -- he rolled out a flu-ridden baby.
"I could not leave my wife alone with my daughter," said Obama, "without knowing the seriousness of the baby's condition and without knowing whether they might be able to get a flight out of Hawaii before New Year's Day." On the plus side he spared the reader any tales of his dog, "Checkers" apparently having stayed behind in Chicago.
No one was buying. Without the protection of the media, Obama came across as just another glad-handing, goldbricking Chicago pol. Rush went on to spank this "tool of the white liberals" in the Democratic primary by better than a two-to-one margin.
And back then at least Obama had an actual relative living in Hawaii.