When then-Senator Obama visited Hawaii in August 2008, I thought it might be a good way to get some extra hits on my ArmchairHawaii.com website. And I was right. I figured that people planning trips to Hawaii might be interested in what he did while he was here.
Thus began my coverage of the “Obama Hawaii Vacation”. He rented a house in the middle of Kailua Beach which was shown on TV the night he arrived. I figured he would probably take a jog on the beach the next morning, so I headed over to check it out.
I recognized the house immediately from TV and the couple of Honolulu police guys standing around. The beach was not blocked off in front. I looked up at the house and saw Michelle standing in front of the large window looking out over the ocean.
A short time later, I saw Senator Obama jogging by with about 5 or 6 guys jogging alongside. Some were friends; some Secret Service. I also saw him walking back the opposite direction about 45 minutes later with three Secret Service agents. There were no crowds around.
He returned to Hawaii last December as the President-Elect. This time he rented the three houses at the far end of the beach (the same ones he is in now). Beach walkers could not go all the way to the end of the beach. They were stopped by two Secret Service agents a hundred yards plus from the house. The street he was on was not blocked off at the entrance. You could walk down the street some before the point where it was closed.
Now that he is President, security has obviously become a lot tighter. Still only two Secret Service agents on the beach (in the same spot as last year). But now there are a couple of boats constantly patrolling the water near his home. His street is completely blocked off. There is also a 10-mile no-fly zone over the Windward side.
There are noticeably fewer photos published on this trip. Most of the photos only show the President entering or leaving an area. In previous trips, we saw photos taken of him on the golf course, body surfing, at the zoo, at the Arizona Memorial, at the Pali Lookout, etc. (*Note: I am not saying that the public SHOULD be allowed to see the President on vacation; I am just noting the differences between his past three visits here)
And last but not least. Remember the shirtless photos taken of President-Elect Obama last year outside his house (and who could forget…). Those photos were taken by some guy with a long lens camera standing on the public side of Kailua Beach. They were displayed on the paparazzi Bauer-Griffin website, whose slogan is “Bauer-Griffin is the Hollywood Hunt Club”.
Yes, they scored big last year with the shirtless photos. And they are back again this year. A few days ago, their Twitter account posted a link to photos of “Obama’s Daughters’ Christmas in Hawaii”. Don’t bother clicking on the link because the page has been taken down. So there, Bauer-Griffin. Next time stick to POTUS pecs.