This is what occurs in a slow-news environment at The Washington Post: they lament the lack of honors for Barack Obama. The front page of Saturday’s paper carried the headline “Hawaii wipes out in Obama honors.” With nothing better to do in Honolulu, White House reporters Greg Jaffe and Juliet Eilperin spent 1,286 words unspooling the “embarrassing record” of Hawaii’s failure to name more than a snowcone after the current president.
The story began at Sandy Beach, where former Honolulu city councilman Stanley Chang wanted to name a favorite Obama hangout for the president:
“It was almost a prose poem,” Chang said. Obama imagined a sea turtle swimming in profile, “like a hieroglyph in the water,” the rolling crest of a perfect wave, the sunset “glittering” as the swimsuit-clad commander in chief sipped a soda.
Where have we heard that kind of Obama gush before? Oh yes, Eli Saslow of your Washington Post. His gushy Christmas Day front-pager in 2008 carried this passage:
Between workout during his Hawaii vacation this week, he was photographed looking like the paradigm of a new kind of presidential fitness, one geared less toward preventing heart attacks than winning swimsuit competitions. The sun glinted off his chiseled pectorals sculpted during four weightlifting sessions each week, and a body toned by regular treadmill runs and basketball games.
In that spirit, Jaffe and Eilperin complained:
Obama’s return to the place of his birth also 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.
For now, the most famous thing that bears Obama’s name here is the “Snowbama,” a shaved ice that’s a mix of lemon, lime, cherry and passion guava flavors and sells for $4 at Island Snow, one of the president’s favorite vacation haunts.
The Posties admitted Obama preferred Chicago to Hawaii for his presidential library, but compared this failure of Obama honors to Grover Norquist’s success in prodding thousands of roads and schools and so on for Ronald Reagan. Late in the story, they admit one note of impatience on the naming thing:
"Because he's still president, it felt a little goofy and opportunistic for people to run around trying to honor him as if his public service was already complete," said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).
Silly Senator Schatz. The reporters have been putting him on the Mount Rushmore of their minds before he was even inaugurated!
The Post cannot imagine naming things after Obama might be like naming them after Millard Fillmore – or Jimmy Carter. Nope, they have to imagine him in newsprint as Lincoln:
The proposal that has come the closest to being realized was one involving a tiny abandoned lot that sits at the address listed on Obama’s birth certificate and would have been re-christened as Barack Obama Birthplace State Park.
Obama appears to have lived at that address for only a few weeks of his infancy, but that didn’t deter Greg Knudsen, chairman of the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board, who pushed the park idea.
“His first home is of historic importance — like Abraham Lincoln’s log cabin,” Knudsen wrote in a letter to his state representative. “We have an opportunity to quickly establish a fitting tribute to the new president.”
What? Obama only lived in Hawaii for a few weeks after he was born? But Obama’s memoir pegged him as spending two years with his father. The Washington Post never wanted to share their own editor’s book that explained Mama Obama flew back to Washington state after a few weeks, demonstrating Obama was writing fiction. They prefer the Mount Rushmore myths to the grubby reality.