In Brief

Obama to summer at Martha’s Vineyard

But will he choose to stay in the area favoured by celebrities or the black elite?

There really isn't anywhere else for a young charismatic Democrat president to go for his summer holiday. Like Kennedy and Clinton, Barack Obama is expected spend a good part of August in the peaceful seclusion of Martha's Vineyard, the island off Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Obama went to Martha's Vineyard two years ago, and enthused at a fundraiser that it was "one of those magical places where people of all different walks of life come together. Where they take each other at face value."

He added: "I can wander around in shorts and not shave in the morning and no one talks about it." Now, there are reports that the President has sent his entourage ahead to scout out a suitable family holiday home, while some hotel owners say the Secret Service has been booking rooms. The big question is whether Obama will head to the part of the island favoured by the ex-Presidents and an array of Hollywood royalty, or whether he'll stay in the area to the northeast of the island favoured by America's black elite. The former, labelled Hollywood East, plays host to the Kennedy clan, Sir Paul McCartney, Carly Simon and many other stars. The latter, centred around Oak Bluffs and a beach called the Ink Well, is where Oprah Winfrey, Spike Lee and many other rich black Americans hang out.  Lawrence Otis Graham, an acclaimed black author, said that the community there would be doing whatever they could to be seen with Obama. "The Obamas provide the international imprimatur which the black elite craves", he said.

But the social scene was an exclusive one, he noted: "They are very elitist and unapologetic about it. They are not interested in celebrities or entertainment and sports figures. They want to know where your great-grandfather went to medical school, and the school your grandmother went to before she 'came out' as a black debutante, and who presented her." The island's reputation as a summer colony for rich liberals once led George W Bush, who preferred to holiday at his own ranch in Texas, to deride its inhabitants as elitist white wine swillers. In 1996, on the advice of his pollster Dick Morris, Bill Clinton swapped his annual, sociable jaunt there for a hiking trip to Wyoming, to convince the American electorate that he too loved the great outdoors. The holiday was a disaster.

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