Hawaii, don't be shy about laying claim to Obama


POSTED: Sunday, November 23, 2008

If you combined the pace of a glacier with the sense of urgency of a lazy afternoon at Ala Moana Beach Park, you would have the description of Hawaii reacting to national events.

We are sort of a torpid Pacific island glacier - it doesn't go anywhere and then it melts.

As you have heard, our Barry, AKA Barack Obama, has been elected president of the United States. The high school from which he graduated, Punahou, saw fit to even mention it on the front of its Web page. It was the second item: “;Punahou alumnus elected president of the United States.”;

Overall, Hawaii has managed to take Obama's election in stride. It is bigger news than the monthly box jelly fish report, but Hawaii citizens were not storming to buy up keepsake copies of the papers announcing his election. In New York, Chicago and Washington, the printing presses were running around the clock to keep up with the demand.

  The Oxford Dictionary has made “;meh”; its latest addition. It is defined as “;an expression of indifference or boredom.”; Perhaps that could include Hawaii as an example of a geographical statement of “;Meh.”;

In comparison, Chicago is not just discovering, embracing and celebrating all things Obama, the city is making Obama work for them.

“;Experience the city the Obamas enjoy,”; beckons the new Chicago tourism campaign.

“;Chicagoans are unbelievably proud of Barack and feel of course that he's ours, because he is,”; novelist Scott Turow said in a Chicago Tribune interview. But wait - wasn't Obama ours? Didn't his wife say you couldn't understand Barack until you knew Hawaii?

Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley seems to have understood Obama enough to order banners with a great sketch of the 44th president to hang from street posts all over the city.

Obama has repaid the favor. Where he and Michelle Obama dine, from Spiaggia to Manny's Deli, the act creates new Obama shrines. On Friday he cut a video promoting Chicago as the site for the 2016 Olympics.

  Here in Hawaii, land of his birth and education, we are just about ready to decide if we want to start planning something. Marsha Wienert, Gov. Linda Lingle's tourism czar, says that the Hawaii Tourism Authority has meetings planned during the first week of December about an Obama promotion.

“;We are glad he went surfing and we are glad he had shave ice,”; Wienert said about possible linkage between the internationally popular president-elect and the state that is looking at double-digit tourism declines.

Another Chicago writer says: “;Obama seems so comfortable in his skin and with who he is. That's so Chicago.”;

And that's so Hawaii, to be left out of the mix.