Off the Beat: Letter to Obama — Pop Your Hawaii Vacation Bubble
The president should put the golf clubs away and re-encounter the real Hawaii.
Reading time: 4 minutes.
There’s no two ways about it — you give boring vacation.
Your sixth presidential Christmas vacation in Hawaii has so far been as routine as the previous five. On a “blue, sunny morning,” pool reports explain, your motorcade takes a short drive from your vacation rental in Kailua to the nearby Marine Corps Base. You work out while the reporter sits in a McDonald’s nearby. Later, you throw in a brief hike to Manoa Falls and play yet another round of golf with your buddies.
Your idea of shaking things up involves grabbing a little shave ice with the girls or a fine meal with Michelle at Alan Wong’s.
As no-drama Obama, you certainly get enough adrenaline at your day job and you deserve a break.
But it doesn’t have to be so numbing. You can burst the presidential bubble that has over-insulated so many presidents’ second terms. Rub up against the humanity of Hawaii’s common folk; it might be refreshing after dealing with Congress. (And no, Barry, those traditional Christmas photo-ops with servicemen and women don’t count.)
While you’re here, you could also bone up on some things to help the final years of your presidency to thrive. With that in mind, we at Civil Beat propose a little itinerary to spice up the rest of your vacation:
The Snowden Tour Decode the mystery of Edward Snowden. You don’t need to stop at Snowden’s former house in Waipahu — we already did that for you — but you might want to visit the National Security Agency base in Wahiawa.
You should also surprise the well-paid Internet spy squad over at Booz Allen Hamilton’s offices where Snowden worked. Booz Allen may have gathered digital traces on tens or hundreds of millions of random Americans, essentially because they could, but it is a private company so they probably aren’t required to welcome a sitting president.
Then again, since the federal government has billions of dollars in contracts with the company, they kind of owe you, and us — or at least they should.
This Hawaii-based national security tour might help you digest that 300-page report outlining recommendations to reform the NSA and the nation’s surveillance policies over the holidays.
Visit a Homeless Shelter Drop in on the Next Step Shelter or the Institute for Human Services downtown and have a genuine conversation with some of the surprising people who are being left out of the economic “recovery.”
And take the motorcade through Chinatown or Waikiki or Kakaako or Waianae and pull over when you see people clustered around tents and shopping carts. In some cases, their words might offer you some perspective on how far the minimum wage gets you in Hawaii. In others, their stories might be a sort of call for more help with mental health.
Note: If you invite state Rep. Tom Brower and his sledgehammer along, people are likely to be less talkative.
Talk GMOs on Kauai and the Big Island Take Air Force One to Kauai. Brush up on the epicenter of the 21st century food fight over genetically engineered crops. You used to say that there was no red America and no blue America, just the United States of America. Well, there is clearly a pro-GMO Kauai (and they dress in blue) and an anti-GMO Kauai (that dresses in red), and it will take quite a uniter to get them to live together on the same island.
By the way, take Michelle along; she supports a healthy diet. We’re betting she’ll have thoughts to share.
Walk Around UH Manoa The place where your mom and dad met is in a sad state, with a construction, repair and maintenance backlog that is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Given your smarts, academic experience and interest in sports, maybe you can tell us why we pay losing football coaches and inept administrators hundreds of thousands of dollars, but we can’t fix broken campus toilets.
While you are on the education trail, you could drop in on some of the many public schools that have no air conditioning. As a former professor, you may having feelings about the sight of sweaty students nodding off in class.
On a side note, if you need a tour guide, we’re there for you. Just drop on by. We’re located across from Tamura’s Fine Wine & Liquors on Waialae Avenue, just above Central Pacific Bank. We validate. Coffee’s waiting. Incidentally, it’ll all be on the record.
The Civil Beat Staff
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