'Even a president needs to take time off,' clergyman says

August 29, 1994|By New York Times News Service

VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass. -- As the saying goes, opposites attract. But what the first flurry of President Clinton's vacation here has again shown is just how quickly celebrities bond.

First it was golf with a few new friends, like William Gates Jr., the founder of Microsoft; Warren E. Buffett, the financier; and George Stevens, the producer-director. Then it was dinner at the summer home of Katharine Graham of The Washington Post Co.

Yesterday afternoon, Mr. Clinton was back on the golf course; this time, his foursome included Paul Michael Glaser of the old television series "Starsky and Hutch" and, for the second successive day, Vernon E. Jordan, the lawyer-lobbyist and his former transition chairman.

And when it came time for a sunset sail, could it have been any surprise that the baby-boomer president and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, boarded a 72-foot yawl chartered by James Taylor, the singer-songwriter known for "You've Got a Friend."

This year's activities so far match Mr. Clinton's pattern here a year ago, when the most treasured afternoon of his vacation was the one he and his family spent on the water with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and hers.

He flew here this summer talking about how badly he needed a break, and it has become plain that for Mr. Clinton, there is sanctuary in time spent alongside others who understand the burdens of public glare.

When Mr. Clinton did venture among the hoi polloi after an outdoor church service in Oak Bluffs, he got a reminder of just what he has fled Washington to avoid.

What exactly was Paula C. Jones talking about, one woman wanted to know as the president passed by, referring to a former Arkansas state employee who has filed a sexual harassment suit against Mr. Clinton.

Mr. Clinton did not respond, but when a reporter asked him later whether a minister's blessing had given him divine dispensation for a vacation, the president said, "Yeah, needed it."

"Even a president needs to take time off," the Rev. Edward Vander Hey told a congregation that included the first family.

The president and his family worshiped yesterday with other vacationers and residents at The Tabernacle, a 159-year-old, semi-open-air church.

The Clintons' daughter, Chelsea, is here with a friend, whom the White House would identify only as Rebecca; they are staying apart from her parents in the main house of a borrowed retreat.

On Saturday night, with the Clintons out to dinner, the girls were spotted at The Wharf, a seafood restaurant in Edgartown.

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