HONOLULU — An ocean away from Washington worries, President Barack Obama opened his annual Hawaii vacation Saturday on a quiet note — and hoped it would stay that way for the next two weeks.
Every year, Obama and his family prepare to return to his birth state. And every year — until now — congressional squabbling has forced the Obamas to delay their trip to Oahu.
This year, Obama was cleared for an on-time departure by Congress, which defied pessimistic expectations last week by passing a bipartisan budget deal, all but ensuring the government won't shut down over the next two years. It was a far cry from presaging a new era of cooperation, to be sure, but a silver lining for Obama a day earlier as he acknowledged a year of frustrating "ups and downs."
The president, first lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia, and first dogs Sunny and Bo hopped an overnight flight aboard Air Force One to Honolulu, where they were whisked by motorcade to a beachside home in Kailua, a sleepy Honolulu suburb with a 5-mile stretch of beach popular among windsurfers and tourists. The next morning Obama, typically an early riser, got a late start, staying at the home until early afternoon, when he headed to the gold course at a nearby Marine Corps base.
Aides said Obama will receive daily national security briefings and updates on the troubled health-care implementation as key deadlines approach. As always, events may intervene, but aides said the president is looking forward to a period of uninterrupted rest and relaxation. He is scheduled to be in Honolulu through Jan. 5.