President Obama ‘Not So Popular’ in Hawaii

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After all the trouble Hawaii has gone through for Barack Obama, you might think that his name would be on buildings throughout the tiny state.

Other states, proud of their presidents, are full of streets, buildings, rivers, and mountains, named after their native sons who become president.

Not Hawaii … not anywhere in Hawaii.

It seems that nothing at all in the State of Hawaii is named after president Obama. While he is on his final annual vacation to Hawaii as commander-in-chief, it seems there are no plans to dedicate anything to his name as he begins his final year in the White House.

The Washington Post on Friday said that there has not been even one serious attempt to honor the first African-American president.

That doesn’t mean people have not tried. In fact, some people have tried multiple times, but they have been spitting into the wind and have been unable to put up a solid case that has taken hold.

One of those who have tried multiple times is Stanley Chang, a former Honolulu City Councillor. He tried seven times to get something, anything named after Obama. Chang failed … seven times.

Stanley Chang wasn’t the only Hawaiian politicians to try and fail since 2009 to rename places and things after Obama. They tried their luck with a scenic overlook, two schools, and two state holidays. Each one failed. They thought they had a winner with an apartment building where Obama lived, that was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

island snow
Island Snow shaved ice.

The best Hawaii has been able to do, probably because it was conceived and approved by only one person, is the “Snowbama.” The “Snowbama” is a shaved ice treat, a mix of lemon, lime, cherry and passion guava. It sells for for $4 at Island Snow, a place the Obama family visits while there on vacation.

No word on how popular it is.

Compare this miserable effort for Obama with what was done for Ronald Reagan. 109 buildings, roads and schools were named after Reagan, including the Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.

Hawaii has a Polynesian heritage and many Hawaiians want to protect that. While speaking to the Washington Post, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said, “People here believe that land has spirit and feeling. It’s not just dirt.”

Maybe Obama will be remembered later. Traditionally, many former presidents are honored in this was after their death. Given Obama’s age, that may be a long time coming and many things may have been forgotten by then.

Although Hawaii is reticent about memorializing Obama, Florida has not hesitated. It has already renamed the Old Dixie Highway at Florida’s Riviera Beach, and East First Street in nearby Pahokee is now called Barack Obama Boulevard.

Hawaii State Rep. Gene Ward, a Republican previously co-sponsored a bill to honor the president’s name. That was then … now he isn’t interested. He said, “Given the way he’s handled the presidency and handled the security of our nation, I just don’t have the heart for it. He didn’t put the presidential library here. He comes to Hawaii and doesn’t even wear an Aloha shirt.”

It’s no wonder Hawaiians don’t want to waste a name.

Dwight L. Schwab Jr. is a moderate conservative who looks at all sides of a story, then speaks his mind. His BS in journalism from University of Oregon, with minors in political science and American history stands him in good stead for his writing.

Dwight has 30 years in the publishing industry, including ABC/Cap Cities and International Thomson. A native of Portland, Oregon, and now a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area.

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