Clinton faces the hard task of taking life easy

WASHINGTON - Picture the scene. As the sun sets, the bars begin to fill with wealthy yachtsmen, cocktails in hand. Deep-sea fishing boats gently rise at their moorings. But out there, on the beach, a large fretful figure stalks up and down, cellular phone in fist, writes Phil Reeves.

Yesterday saw the official start of President Bill Clinton's summer vacation on Martha's Vineyard, 100 trendy and expensive square miles off the coast of Massachusetts where one of the more persistent allegations against the presidential character will be tested: that he is a workaholic, incapable of taking time off.

Ronald Reagan used to escape the madding crowd by chopping wood on his Californian ranch. George Bush preferred fishing off Maine. Whatever their other faults, both men knew how to enjoy themselves. Mr Clinton has no residence apart from the White House. He has not had a proper holiday in four years, and he has yet to prove that he knows how to behave.

Last week he gave his staff a scare by suggesting that instead of taking 10 days off he might return to Washington after a week. He later changed his mind, but White House observers are sceptical that he will succeed in staying away for the allotted time.

This is despite the fact that Martha's Vineyard satisfies many of his requirements. Although there is no McDonald's to feed his penchant for fast food, there is the Farm Neck Golf Club, a championship course where he has booked a game every day. The neighbours are also the sort with whom the rather star-struck Clintons like to rub shoulders: Billy Joel, Jacqueline Onassis, Carly Simon, Art Buchwald, Walter Cronkite, Spike Lee and more.

No one in the presidential entourage is in much doubt that Mr Clinton needs a break. He has just completed a frantic week of half-work half-play, in which he met the Pope, unveiled his health-care reforms to state governors and played golf with former president Gerald Ford. But, burdened by his battle over the budget and the nagging question of Bosnia, he has become snappy of late. Twice recently he bellowed at his staff - when aides forgot his briefcase and his telephone numbers.

The Clintons are staying at a seaside home belonging to the former US defence secretary, Robert McNamara, a lavish spread set among the island's million-dollar estates, quaint restaurants, and exclusive yacht clubs. It has easy access to a private beach, although how easy moving around the rest of the island will be is another matter. The 'body-watchers' from the press will be there in force, as will a horde of Secret Service agents and crowds of tourists. Being the height of the season, the island population has swollen to 80,000. However, not every islander will be there to greet him. If Mr Clinton has nothing else to worry about as he pads around the beach, he can always ponder the misfortune of the local Gay Head Wampanoag Indian tribe, who are forced to leave the island every summer because of high rents during the tourist season.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions