Alaska Visit, Denali Naming Highlights Obama’s Bucket List
President Barack Obama’s renaming of Mount McKinley to Denali has raised the hackles of Speaker John A. Boehner , but the rest of his Alaska trip may rile the GOP even more as the president highlights the effects of climate change and his go-it-alone plans to tackle it.
That’s part of the freedom Obama is enjoying in his last year and a half in office. He can cross off more items on his bucket list, doesn’t have to face the voters again and increasingly doesn’t worry about carping from the congressional peanut gallery. And while changing the name of the mountain will be a tiny part of Obama’s legacy, his climate efforts are clearly of a different scale entirely — with major court cases ahead, as well as an effort to secure a broad global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. Obama’s trip will include a tour of a shrinking glacier, a boat trip and a meeting with fishermen — all providing a picturesque backdrop for a call to action.
He’ll even be taping a crash course in survival in what’s being billed as a “special edition” of “Running Wild With Bear Grylls” to air later this year on CNBC.
He’s also getting some flak from environmentalists for allowing Shell to drill in Arctic waters.
Renaming a mountain is comparatively easy in the grand scheme of things and it has broad support in Alaska, where the delegation has been trying to change the name back to Denali, its native Alaska name, for decades instead of having the name of an assassinated president who never set foot in Alaska.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, praised the president over the weekend and has repeatedly tried to change the name through legislation — even as Ohio lawmakers have fought efforts to remove the name of a president from their state.
“Clearly, these are little bills in the big picture of things that we do around here,” Murkowski said in a 2012 hearing on a bill to change the name. “I understand that. But I also understand, as I know the chairman does, that it’s the little things that sometimes matter a great deal to our communities. Making Denali — the name Alaskans use anyway — the official name of America’s tallest mountain means something to Alaska.”