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Obama is home for dose of aloha


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POSTED: Thursday, December 24, 2009

It took a while, but the first family is on the way to Hawaii for the holidays without snickers from the Washington press corps about the Obamas traveling to somewhere “;exotic”; while the nation's capital recovers from 2 feet of snow. Of course, Hawaii benefits from such visits, and White House reporters may have found that they do, too — following the president to somewhere exotic.

Of course, the reporters have the best of motives in accurately explaining that President Barack Obama and his family have traditionally, for years, spent Christmas in his native state, visiting with family and friends, just like many other Americans. Nothing wrong with that.

Obama is clearly not just any American. As the leader of the free world, his decisions can make or break industries, can cause life-or-death consequences. Work on health care reform, in fact, delayed his arrival back home till today. He deserves a bit of hometown respite — aloha-style.

“;I probably had more crises on my desk than any president since FDR, and that's just subjectively speaking,”; Obama told Washington, D.C., radio show host Tom Joyner. “;You think about two wars, the economic crisis, the banking crisis, swine flu — we just had a lot of stuff coming at us quickly.”;

; The president has displayed through politics and personal habits that he is a practitioner of old-fashioned pragmatism. Clearly — although he dares not say so — it makes sense to spend the winter holiday season in the balmy islands, maybe including a round or two of golf, during a time of year when the Windy City folks experience the wind-chill factor at its fullest.

Some Oahu air tour operators are miffed that a no-fly zone over much of Windward Oahu during the family's visit will hurt their businesses. One operator wondered aloud why Obama can't opt for spending the holidays at, say, Lanai or Molokai. He doesn't get it: that would defy the family tradition.

Adhering to another pragmatic family practice, Obama let it be known that he would not be arriving with a heavy load of Christmas gifts on Air Force One.

“;Michelle and I made a bargain about 10 years ago that we don't buy each other Christmas presents,”; he told Joyner.

“;But she makes me pay during her birthday and our anniversary,”; he added. “;It doesn't save me money, but it does save me some wrapping time. So basically we just have to make sure the kids are taken care of, and these days, they don't ask for too much.”;

Visiting a Boys & Girls Club in northeast D.C. this week, Obama asked the children there what they wanted from Santa Claus. The response: a video game, a TV, a video game, a cell phone.

“;Now let me ask you a question here guys,”; he said. “;What ever happened to, like, asking for a bike?”;

After hearing the wish lists and before departing, Obama explained to the children: “;What's important is what kind of spirit you have. So I hope everybody has a spirit of kindness and thoughtfulness.”;