Dateline Martha’s Vineyard: Presidential-Kitsch Watch

By
Photo: Christopher Bonanos

So far, since the presidential vacation began this weekend, the tony New England enclave of Martha's Vineyard has laid out every possible welcome mat for Barack Obama and his family. There were signs and cheers along the motorcade route as the First Family arrived from the airport last night. (For the record, Dukes County broke 75–23 for Obama over McCain last year.) In Edgartown today, the boutiques are displaying T-shirts that show the presidential seal atop the words "Martha's Vineyard." Soft As a Grape, the oddly named shop near Edgartown Harbor, has filled its front window with cardboard-cutout politicians, all appropriately T-shirted: Hillary, Barack, John McCain. Sarah Palin is there, too, with a "Nobama" 2012 shirt, plus a cartoon voice-bubble stapled to her head that reads "I can see Martha's Vineyard from my house!"

Nearby, Murdick's Fudge is showcasing an enormous chunk of chocolaty goodness studded with M&M's that spell out "Sasha & Malia." At Saffron, a dressier women's boutique, a mannequin wears a pair of Michelle-esque capri-length pants with blouse and hat and is displayed with the sign you see in the photo above. One gets the sense that if the Obamas should drop in to town for a stroll, the proprietors would be extremely eager to catch his eye for a photo op.

The best commander-in-chief kitsch we've seen so far [Ed: What, you thought Intel wasn't going to send a reporter for this hot story?] is at Espresso Love. That's the café visited by President Clinton early in his first term, the one where he would stop to chat up customers on his morning jog. Back then, owner Carol McManus created a Presidential Muffin, made with strawberries, blueberries, and a streak of white cream cheese. It's still on the menu — joined, this year, by the Obama Muffin. The newcomer has a Hawaiian inflection (coconut, pineapple, and macadamia nuts) and is meant to echo this president's health-conscious eating habits (whole-wheat flour and oats, a low-fat recipe). It is a slightly lighter and drier baked good than the Presidential Muffin, and your correspondent, having tried both this morning, has decided that it's better. Not that we're reading anything into that.