The Washington Post reports that, after nearly seven years of Barack Obama’s presidency, his native state still hasn’t named anything after him. I don’t count the Snowbama, a shaved ice concoction, though the name captures an important aspect of the president.
According to Post reporters Greg Jaffe and Juliet Eilperin:
Obama’s return to the place of his birth [for the Christmas holiday season] calls to mind an embarrassing record of legislative stumbles: Since 2009, Hawaii’s politicos have sought to name two schools, an abandoned lot, a scenic overlook and two state holidays after Obama. An effort to put the 1960s-era cinder-block apartment building — where he lived — on the National Historic registry also fell short.
“Stumbles” or indifference? You decide.
The Post offers several explanations for the absence of a Hawaii tribute to President Obama. It cites local laws, cost, the fact that Obama is still in office, the fact that his presidential library will be in Chicago, and a local preference for existing Polynesian names.
None seems persuasive. For example, Honolulu mayor Kirk Caldwell says that “people here believe that land has spirit and feeling; it’s not just dirt.” Maybe. But the dirt in the vacant lot at issue corresponds to the address listed on Obama’s birth certificate. Yet, efforts to name the lot after Obama have failed.
Perhaps if they locate the dirt where Obama’s choom gang inhaled, the spirit will be auspicious for an Obama-naming.
Back in 2009, when the idea of naming the lot after Obama was first proposed, it had bipartisan support. No longer. The original Republican co-sponsor, Gene Ward, says: “Given the way he’s handled the presidency and handled the security of our nation, I just don’t have the heart for it.”
For Ward and, I suspect, many others, the “stumbles” that stand in the way of an Obama-naming have been the president’s.