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British reporter perplexed by 'voyeur-like' press following Obama on vacation, Secret Service's 'ill-fitting beige pants

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FILE - In this Aug. 11, 2013 file photo, President Barack Obama reacts as he misses a shot while golfing on the first hole at Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs, Mass. , on the island of Martha's Vineyard. President Barack Obama's fourth summer vacation on the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard is humming along with the usual golf games and basketball. But the family vibe is different. For the first time, daughters Malia and Sasha are missing, away at summer camp. (Credit: AP)

Times of London reporter Billy Kenber traveled for the first time with President Obama, who spent the last week on vacation in Martha's Vineyard. In a column for the Washington Post, Kenber describe "the cult of celebrity surrounding the Obamas":

[E]ven when he was away from the crowds, he was not left alone — thanks to what is, to these eyes, a peculiar U.S. tradition: the protective travel pool.

The American media clearly feel that they have a duty to be on hand at all times, in case developing events — such as violence in Egypt, or other emergencies — intrude. The practical result of this pious goal, though, is that the assembled journalists are left covering events that are really no more than tabloid fodder.

It gives rise to strange situations, such as the sight of almost a dozen fully grown adults waiting, voyeur-like, on the edge of a forest to catch a glimpse of [the Obama daughters], ages 12 and 15, out for a holiday bike ride with their parents.

Despite trailing the president everywhere, the traveling press pool can go entire days without actually laying eyes on him. ...

Small wonder then, that Obama opted to spend so much time hitting the links during this trip — a total of 271/ 2 hours over six rounds.

Time on the island’s lush greens and tree-lined fairways is pretty much the closest thing to freedom — or at least a regular vacation — that Obama gets, although he remained ringed by the not-so-discreet Secret Service agents wearing the seemingly obligatory uniform of ill-fitting beige pants.

The irony of a British journalist shocked by the media's fascination with the heads of a country isn't lost on Kenber (Recall the #RoyalBaby). He admits the same attention is paid to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

@eScarry

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