US President Obama has accomplished something extraordinary during his Hawaiian escape from Washington: his White House has gone dark for more than a week.
Here on Oahu, where Obama and his family are staying in a luxury oceanfront rental home in the sleepy town of Kailua, the president is cloaked in the comfort of a news-free zone. The public does not see much of him, except for when he is zipping by in his armored sport utility vehicle, and it does not much seem to care.
Images of the president at leisure — sharing a Hawaiian shave ice with daughters Malia and Sasha, golfing, dining out with his wife — have trickled out, orchestrated by aides who have also taken care to allow pictures of the president at church and visiting the troops on Christmas Day.
But, news photographers are grousing. They were kept at a safe distance and given strict instructions to put away their telephoto lenses when the Obama family went snorkeling on Tuesday at the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, where green sea turtles and fish in all shapes and colors dart in and out of a coral reef.