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Obama safe on the golf course during earthquake, but gets briefed later anyway

August 23, 2011 |  3:58 pm

Obama Golf Quake Putt 8-23-11

Poor President Obama can't catch a break.

He goes on this expensive island vacation without releasing an overdue jobs program and people complain he's had 930+ days, where's he been?

On Monday he gets some family time and this Libya conflict he started hits a turning point. So he has to go on TV and talk democracy for eight minutes. Mission Accomplished, almost

Today the Democrat did the family thing on the beach and bikes all morning.

The afternoon was scheduled guy time on the golf course, which wasn't going too well in the putting department, according to eyewitnesses. And then there's this magnitude 5.8 earthquake up and down the East Coast.

First of all, POTUS is safe. No panic. He was outdoors. He didn't even feel it, clueless. Fortunately, he has a lot of non-vacationing aides around. And they could tell him about the public shock of millions across the region and the Pentagon and monument evacuations and no initial reports of anything wrong.

He could also learn a little about approaching Hurricane Irene, which threatens to screw up his vacation weekend plans, among other things.

Aides set up an emergency conference call for the president in an undisclosed area near the golf course to be told again that everything is OK. Here's the White House report on that crowded call:

At 2:50 p.m. EDT this afternoon, the president led a conference call with DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, Senior Science Advisor for Earthquake and Geologic Hazards with the Department of Interior Dr. David Applegate, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Greg Jaczko, Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Heidi Avery and Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough to discuss the earthquake and status of critical infrastructure. 

The president was told that there are no initial reports of major infrastructure damage, including at airports and nuclear facilities and that there were currently no requests for assistance. The president asked for regular updates on the situation. The president also was provided an update on preparations for Hurricane Irene by Secretary Napolitano and Administrator Fugate.

Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, was over in Japan expressing sympathy for their quake-tsunami disaster last spring. So he can't be blamed for the day's discouraging new poll numbers.

Also, the president ordered that people keep bringing him any new information.


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-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters (Obama missing putts on vacation, Aug. 23).