President Barack Obama has been criticized for golfing during his two-week summer vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. (Steven Senne/Associated Press)
Senior reporter

Aaron Blake covers politics for The Washington Post. If you’d like to nominate someone for the worst week in Washington, e-mail

President Obama has had some trouble getting away from it all.

During the president’s vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., Americans have witnessed clashes and standoffs between police and protesters in Ferguson, Mo., and have seen a gut-wrenching video of American journalist James Foley being beheaded by Islamic State militants, who said the killing was in retaliation for airstrikes Obama ordered against them in Iraq.

Meanwhile, the chairman of Obama’s own party, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), appeared to question the president’s decision to deport thousands of illegal-immigrant youths back to their violent home countries in Central America, suggesting that they were being placed “in dire jeopardy.”

Through it all, Obama golfed. Yes, he gave a couple of news conferences, too, but he soon returned to his vacation and his clubs. By the end of the week, Obama aides had to tell the New York Times that “the golf game did not reflect the depth of his grief over Foley.”

Obama can take solace in a Washington Post-ABC News poll showing that his decision to launch the airstrikes in Iraq was broadly popular — at least before the death of Foley. And a CBS News-New York Times poll showed that Americans were more positive than negative about his response to Ferguson.

But the challenges of the week, from the Midwest to the Mideast, underscore the difficulty Obama has had in uniting a divided America and ending the war in Iraq — two of the key issues that led to his political rise. Six years later, they still bedevil him.

President Obama, for watching your agenda slice into the deep rough, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

Read more from Outlook:

Five myths about presidential vacations

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