White House says a vacationing president is still president

President Barack Obama’s vacation in Martha’s Vineyard -- interrupted by turmoil at home and abroad -- has earned him some bad headlines.

But the White House pushed back Friday against some of the criticism, saying Obama was taking his job seriously, despite frequent golf outings that critics have used to question his priorities. The New York Daily News memorably published a front page photograph of Obama sitting in a golf cart with a smile on his face, next to a photograph of the grieving mother of James Foley, the American journalist beheaded by the Islamic State.

The golf shot of Obama was taken soon after he delivered remarks that condemned the group for the murder and vowed to seek justice.

Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz told reporters that “anyone wondering (Obama’s) views on both the situation with ISIL, that video, or his concern for the Foley family should go back and review that statement.

“It was delivered from the heart, it was candid, it was honest, and it was open,” Schultz said. “I think anyone trying to assess how seriously he takes the gravity of that situation should go back and watch that or read it or listen to it again.”

Asked whether the White House had considered forgoing the golf outing, Schultz said “first and foremost, the president is focused on doing his job. And to us, that's paramount. And what I think you've seen is just because the president is in a different location doesn't mean he's not doing his job.

As for the golf outings, Schultz said he wouldn’t “get into the president's mindset.” But, he added, “I will say that, generally, I think that, you know, sports and leisure activities are a good way for release and clearing of the mind for a lot of us.”