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Obama agenda: A somber welcome mat

The New York Times sums up Obama’s tour across the Midwest this way: the welcome mat was out, but the mood wasn’t too cheerful. “Even here, in the state where he began his political career and makes his home, Mr. Obama got tough questions from people who said they were fearful about their future, frustrated by the paralyzed job market and fed up with a political culture in Washington that produced the debt-ceiling imbroglio.”

“A real estate agent told Mr. Obama that her phone had stopped ringing after the debt debate, setting back what had been a nascent recovery in housing prices. A corn and soybean farmer complained about new government regulations on noise and water pollution. A young man asked whether his grandmother’s Social Security check would be adjusted to account for rising prices. As he has at every stop, Mr. Obama did his best to sympathize.”

Don’t say Obama isn’t taking the fight to the GOP, says the Boston Globe: “[T]he president has taken a somewhat unusual strategy: Go directly to the voters and challenge House conservatives…  By adopting the direct-appeal approach, Obama has largely tossed aside the traditional Rose Garden strategy of ignoring the opposition party’s primaries process by appearing presidential and letting lieutenants take on the battle out of the spotlight. Obama’s plan is reminiscent of the successful gambit of Democrat Harry Truman, who in 1948 vilified the Republican-controlled Congress as “do-nothing’’ and obstructionist to his policies. Truman won in a famous upset over Thomas Dewey.

The Boston Globe looks at the preparations on Martha’s Vineyard for the president’s vacation there.

A banner hanging up outside the Mansion House, the hotel serving as the media workspace for the president's Vineyard vacation, reads, per NBC’s Shawna Thomas: "Having achieved much against division and dysfunction. President Obama deserves a vineyard vacation and our thanks.”

According to one article, the Mansion House put up a banner last year that said: "Mansion House Inn Believes Anyone Who Has ... Passed health care reform, signed economic stimulus bills, recast America's global image, commands two war zones, won a Nobel Peace Prize, nominated 2 Supreme Court judges, overhauled financial regulations ... deserves a vacation!"

CBS reports: “So far, President Obama has taken 61 vacation days after 31 months in office. At this point in their presidencies, George W. Bush had spent 180 days at his ranch where his staff often joined him for meetings. And Ronald Reagan had taken 112 vacation days at his ranch. Among recent presidents, Bill Clinton took the least time off -- 28 days.”

Here’s a different count… Political Wire: “The Chicago Sun Times notes that this is Obama's ninth vacation since taking office and has spent all or part of 38 days on vacation away from the White House. He has also made 14 visits to Camp David spanning all or part of 32 days, for a total of 70 days. In contrast, former President George W. Bush, at this point in his first term, had made 14 visits to his Texas ranch spanning all or part of 102 days and also made 40 visits to Camp David spanning all or part of 123 days. His vacation total at this point in his presidency was all or part of 225 days away.”

The RNC is issuing “Obama getaway” postcards.

“Unlike Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, who also got grief for vacationing at the family estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, Obama doesn't own a vacation home,” the New York Daily News points out.