The Bushes liked to invite guests to their Kennebunkport, Maine retreat. We remember the summer 2007 fiasco when Nicolas Sarkozy, invited by the Bush clan, arrived alone, Cécilia suffering from the "flu”. W. invited political allies and foreign dignitaries to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, just like Lyndon Johnson. Theodore Roosevelt made his Sagamore Hill residence a sort of "summer White House,” as he said. And the entire American political class visited the Kennedy enclave in Hyannis Port. Bill Clinton, who did not have a second home, used Camp David to receive those he wanted to coax, flatter and persuade.
Things have changed with the 44th president.
Obama is like Ronald Reagan. He does not need to stay in the public eye constantly, and when he is on vacation, like now on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, he disappears completely from view of the journalists who follow him. Ronald Reagan once received the Queen of England at the Rancho del Cielo in Santa Barbara for a private visit, but even members of his cabinet were not invited.
Unlike his predecessors, the 44th president does not frequent the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland. It was here that Jimmy Carter united Anwar Sadat and Menahem Begin to reach a peace agreement between their two countries. Camp David, located in the Catoctin Mountains, far from the sometimes toxic hustle and bustle of the federal capital, is conducive to fruitful discussions. After the Democrats’ defeat in the November elections, Obama said he would go to Camp David more often to meet with leaders of both parties. "This is a very good idea," said Tom Daschle, former Democratic Senate leader.*
But Barack Obama, more than most of his predecessors, likes to separate his private life and his public life. He makes time for his family, and his work friends are not the same as those he visits after hours. And when he is in Hawaii, on the island where he grew up, which has a special place in his world, Obama needs to isolate himself from the hectic world even more.
*Editor’s Note: This quote, while accurately translated, could not be verified.