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September 7, 2015

Renaming Mount McKinley

Richard B. Weldon Jr.

In a move right out of the film Wag the Dog, President Barack Obama flew to Alaska to spend a few late summer days away from DC. Not sure if he was looking for warmer weather, or maybe safer surroundings, but he and his multi-million dollar retinue loaded up the jumbo jets and flew north.

Remember that moving our president is a grand undertaking, with a similarly-grand expense account. First, he needs his armor-plated limo – The Beast. Actually, he needs two. One for the job of hauling him around, and another just in case number one breaks down. Secret Service SUV’s, chase cars and vans for the staff and press, and cases of weapons, medical gear and technology also make the trek. It takes several military cargo jets to fly the whole shebang.

All of this stuff has to get there before he does. Also, a slew of advance people spend a week in a location ahead of the president’s arrival. The staff scouts photo shoots and attendee lists for public events, and the Secret Service has to check out locations, and in a nod to the modern Secret Service, strip clubs, cheap motels, bars and nightclubs.

So why the logistical nightmare to carry our president to north?

So he can officially rename Mount McKinley, of course.

President William McKinley, the 25th President of the United States, the successor to Grover Cleveland, is known as the president that led the Nation to victory in the Spanish-American War, and who defeated William Jennings Bryan over the issue of maintaining the gold standard despite major inflationary pressure.

Okay, not really. He’s known by most Americans for begin assassinated in the first year of his second term. Anarchist Leon Czolgosz shot the president while he was visiting the World Exposition in Buffalo, NY, in 1901. Prior to his first presidential victory, William McKinley had been the governor of Ohio, and Ohioans loved him.

More on that later.

Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as president after McKinley’s death, and went on to redefine the presidency.

To honor President McKinley, the tallest peak in North America was named Mount McKinley. That recognition stood tall over the continent until President Barack Obama decided to change it back to Denali, the historic reference of the native Alaskan people.

It’s not like there was a hue-and-cry for this renaming. While Alaskans have long-referred to the peak as Denali, it isn’t like there was a major initiative to make this change. It’s a window-dressing change, not a monumental policy shift. Pretty much a big “Who Cares.”

The more telling announcement was the climate change lecture. The president gave us his standard warning about our dependence on fossil fuels, our mass consumptive practices and lifestyles and a direct threat to the future of our planet. It’s obvious from his passion that this matters to him, but there’s at least a little reason to doubt his sincerity.

While he was making his big speech, bemoaning the glacier withdrawal, the huge chunks of ice falling into Prudhoe Bay, his administration quietly granted a major expansion of off-shore drilling in the Alaskan waters.

That’s right, Mr. Environmental Sensitivity and Climate Change authorized an expansion of drilling in northern waters. Remember drill baby, drill?

So, his big speech rings a little hollow on skeptical ears. Of course, in the Age of Hillary, a lot of hollow ringing seems to be occurring. Benghazi, email servers and campaign aides are familiar themes that her candidacy keep ringing like the hollow bell that they are.

Sure, President Obama will make a bunch of native Alaskans happy by kicking former President McKinley off the mountain. Since he no longer needs votes out of Ohio, he won’t care how upset those citizens are at the slight. He would never had done this while facing a re-election, on that you can bet the farm.

He also took a hike with outdoorsman Bear Grylls. Mr. Grylls is a former British Special Forces operator who took to filming an outdoor survival television show. He was highly respected for putting himself in difficult and dangerous positions for extended periods in order to teach outdoor survival skills. At least he was until it was discovered that instead of staying outdoors in makeshift shelters, he and his film crew would turn off the camera and head for nearby four-star lodges and resorts. He's an outdoorsman like President Obama is an environmentalist. Only as long as it's convenient.

Some rabid Tea Party Republicans also discovered that in addition to the native Alaskan word for Denali, the Kenyan language also uses that word. They quickly released a press script that the president is motivated by his Kenyan heritage. Amazing how those people – the Tea Partiers – just can’t stay out of their own way.

So, say goodbye to some of the glacier ice, and say goodbye to the tribute to our long-deceased 25th President. One is a victim to the cycles of a constantly-changing climate, the other to the cycles of political correctness and the politics of shifting our attention from one thing to another.


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