Viewpoint

Denali: The GOP’s latest molehill

Come now the Denali deniers.

President Obama’s conservative critics have long said there is no depth to which he will not sink in his zeal to trash the Constitution. Now, apparently, they also think there is no height to which he will not climb in that same effort.

Obama went to the very top this weekend – to 20,320 feet to be exact – and stripped North America’s highest peak of its official name of the last century, Mount McKinley, returning it to what Alaskans had called it for centuries: Denali, or Great One.

Obama’s opponents immediately condemned him for acting like a dictator, taking unconstitutional action, overstepping his authority, engaging in a partisan stunt and, of course, exhibiting racial animus.

“I hope my colleagues will join with me in stopping this constitutional overreach,” proclaimed Ohio Rep. Bob Gibbs. “President Obama has decided to ignore an Act of Congress in unilaterally renaming Mount McKinley in order to promote his job-killing war on energy.”

Former Rep. Ralph Regula, also from McKinley’s home state of Ohio, asserted to The Columbus Dispatch that Obama “thinks he is a dictator and he can change the law.” Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio saw it as “yet another example of the president going around Congress,” while Ohio Rep. Mike Turner scolded Obama for moving to “undermine a prior act of Congress.” Gov. John Kasich, a GOP presidential candidate, tweeted that “POTUS once again oversteps his bounds,” and House Speaker John Boehner, also from Ohio, pronounced himself “deeply disappointed.”

At the conservative outlet Breitbart.com, Ben Shapiro asked, “Why did Obama choose to change the name now? Presumably because Obama has now solved all the world’s problems, and decided against his second choice, Mount Trayvon.”

Actually, Obama is perfectly within his authority to make the change. If his opponents are really outraged, they can overrule him in Congress or they can elect a president who will change the name back. The problem with both of these is that Alaska, run by Republicans, want the name to be Denali and have been trying to make the change for decades.

There’s also the small matter of conservatives claiming to support local control; in this case, they’re demanding the federal government continue to overrule a state’s wishes. A more ideologically consistent solution would be for the Ohioans to rename something of their own after McKinley. McKinley hadn’t even visited his eponymous peak.

More likely, the mountain will be added to other molehills of Obama overreach: Obamacare, the stimulus, Dodd-Frank, the IRS, immigration, executive appointments and on and on. The common objection to all of these is less about what was done than who did it.

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