For the first family in an election year, even that most innocuous of institutions — the summer vacation — has become rabidly political. Which means the Obamas probably won’t be relaxing on the scenic shores of Martha’s Vineyard this year, as they’ve done in years past.

The White House is keeping mum about the plans, but it wouldn’t do, after all, for voters to see pictures of the president licking ice cream cones and riding bikes while his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, hammers him on the economy. It’s a rocky-road campaign this summer.

Instead, the family might have to settle for an abbreviated trek to somewhere far less posh — perhaps a national park. You might recall that during the 1996 presidential reelection campaign, the Clintons (who also favored Vineyard getaways) hunkered down during the GOP convention in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and toured Yellowstone. George W. Bush waited out the Dems’ 2004 summer confab at his ranch near Crawford, Tex.

But hold on a minute — why can’t the Obamas have their campaign and eat their funnel cake, too? There are plenty of vacation destinations that could be political boons. Swing states have beaches and resorts, too, don’t they?

So, Loop fans, it’s time to do your civic duty by suggesting where the first family should vacation this year. Deadline for submissions is Friday, June 29.

Our five favorite entries will win coveted Loop T-shirts — perfect for wearing on your own summer vacation.

You can leave your entry as a comment on the blog — you may want to double-check that there’s an active e-mail address associated with your log-in. You can also e-mail us at intheloop@
. (Please make sure to include a phone number so we can contact you.)

Catching Up With . . .

When last we chatted with former Clinton administration associate attorney general and convicted felon Webb Hubbell, he was working in town for an insurance agency and making radio ads hawking life insurance for “responsible” marijuana smokers.

Hubble, longtime close friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, did 18 months in a Cumberland, Md., federal prison in 1995-96 for bilking his old law firm’s clients of about $400,000 — he was also indicted a few times by Whitewater prosecutor Ken Starr , who was reportedly squeezing him for information on Hillary Clinton.

The former No. 3 official at the Justice Department told us that “responsible” dopers means occasional users as opposed to constant smokers — something like social drinkers vs. lushes.

But we lost touch with Hubbell not long after that chat in January 2007. Seems the former Little Rock mayor and chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court has relocated to Charlotte, where, according to his Web site (, he’s been keeping busy, very busy.

We see on his LinkedIn page that he’s a “lecturer, consultant and legal advisor” these days, as well as a founder at the Mark of Cain Foundation, which looks at the problems ex-felons have re­entering society. It appears that he does a fair amount of speaking to various bar and other organizations and may still be involved in insurance matters.

Records we found indicated that Hubbell, who wrote a book about his fall called “Friends in High Places” — isn’t living a lavish lifestyle but seems to be doing just fine, living in a nice rented condo with his wife, Suzanna.

We called the other day to ask how things are going, but he demurred because he was driving. We learn on his other Web site — www.thehubbellpew.
— that he recently went to Atlanta to attend his aunt’s funeral.

He also writes that June 21 was “the second anniversary of my transplant surgery,” though he doesn’t specify which organ was involved.

When he finally got back to us and we asked how he’s doing, he told us he couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to read about him. He politely declined to be interviewed.

Catching Up With . . . is a regular Loop feature on newsmakers of yore. Send your suggestions for future subjects to

On track and off

Pundits, law professors and assorted experts were honing their sound bites last week, or even before that, and sending us e-mails advertising their “availability” in anticipation of this or that Supreme Court ruling coming down this week.

The deluge came mostly from the health-care arena, which is now waiting to burst out of the gate at 10:01 a.m. Thursday, when the court is expected to issues its ruling on that case.

But other major decisions, especially Monday’s ruling on the Arizona immigration case, also generated a fair number of “expert-available-just-for-you” alerts.

Yet we found one constitutional-law expert, someone we might be likely to call for comment on just about any case, somewhat out of position as the ruling came down.

There, in the Acela Express waiting lounge at Union Station, was former solicitor general and uber-lawyer Ted Olson, our Acela Express special correspondent reports.

Olson, waiting for the 11 a.m. to New York, was on his cellphone, talking to his office, anxiously asking: “any more decisions coming down” from the Supreme Court?

His office was able to get him the info via e-mail.

With Emily Heil

The blog: Twitter: @InTheLoopWP. Research maven Alice Crites contributed to this column.