U.S. President Barack Obama is back at the White House Monday for a brief interruption of his two-week summer vacation, a break that so far has mixed rounds of golf and parties with the handling of conflicts at home and abroad.
The president is scheduled to meet with Vice-President Joe Biden and National Security Council members on the situation in Iraq, and with Attorney General Eric Holder on the violence and protests in Ferguson, Mo., following the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.
Obama landed in Washington after midnight Sunday and will return Tuesday to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, the swanky and picturesque island where he was vacationing with his wife and two daughters.
The break in his vacation was scheduled from the outset, it's not in reaction to airstrikes ordered in Iraq over the weekend or the National Guard being called in to handle security in Ferguson. White House officials have had trouble explaining exactly why they planned for the president to return to Washington in the middle of his trip, other than to say it's for meetings.
White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz said he doesn't anticipate any major news developments out of Washington, and the spokesman stayed put on Martha's Vineyard, another indication Obama's jaunt back is low-profile.
In the absence of a more specific explanation for why it's necessary for the president to meet in person with officials, questions are being raised about the mysterious interruption. The Hill newspaper speculated that perhaps a foreign leader would be stopping by or that Obama might be taking off on a foreign trip.
Family reason for return to D.C.?
Or could it be a local trip to the DMV? The Hill notes that Obama's daughter Malia, who turned 16 earlier this summer, accompanied her father back to Washington so they might be paying a visit to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The White House could simply be trying to fend off any criticism that Obama shouldn't be away for two full weeks and to physically show he's working even while he's supposed to be on vacation.
But his summer holiday on Martha's Vineyard hasn't exactly been restful. One CNN commentator, Jeffrey Toobin, dubbed it “the vacation from hell” because of what Obama has been dealing with while away.
The U.S. has been targeting ISIS fighters in Iraq with airstrikes, a significant military intervention in a country that Obama pulled American troops out of in 2011. The president has also been keeping on top of the situation in Ukraine and its conflict with Russia as well as the fighting in Gaza.
Michael Brown was shot on Aug. 9, the day Obama began his vacation, and days of unrest in Ferguson have followed. The pressure to do and say something about it swiftly mounted on the president. He ordered the department of justice to conduct an independent investigation and the FBI is also involved.
Obama made two televised statements last week, speaking about Iraq and Ferguson, and according to readouts from the White House the president spoke with multiple world leaders by phone, including Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
He was also faced with headlines about his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, criticizing his foreign policy approach and his handling of the conflict in Syria in a recent interview. Clinton called Obama to smooth things over.
The president also made time to issue a statement on the death of actor Robin Williams last Monday.
However, it hasn't been all work and no play. Obama has hit the golf course a few times, gone for a bike ride and enjoyed the beach for a few hours. He attended a birthday party – Clinton was also on the guest list -- and a fundraiser, he's eaten at local restaurants and he attended a jazz concert Sunday evening before hopping on Air Force One.
Once Obama gets back to Martha's Vineyard he will have a few more days to hit the links and soak up some sun. It's not a vacation full of rest and relaxation, but at least the forecast is looking good.