Republicans React To Denali Name Change By Freaking Out, Because Apparently They Really Love President McKinley
As part of his visit to Alaska this week, President Obama announced America's highest peak would be returning to its original name, and Republicans reacted to the Mount McKinley-Denali name change by freaking the f*ck out. The mountain, located in Alaska, will now go by its native name Denali, or "the great one." For almost 100 years, it stood as a monument to former U.S. President William McKinley, an Ohio native who actually never went to Alaska and probably didn't even know about the mountain.
It makes sense then that a lot of the blowback is coming from Ohio politicians, especially Republicans eager to find blame with Obama. McKinley, the nation's 25th president, was assassinated during his second term, and history tends to forget him. His face once graced the $500 bill, which has long been out of print, and now the man no longer has a mountain — an injustice that politicians of the Buckeye state aren't willing to endure.
On Monday, Republican House Speaker John Boehner, who is from Ohio, said he was "deeply disappointed." According to Boehner, "There is a reason President McKinley's name has served atop the highest peak in North America for more than 100 years, and that is because it is a testament to his great legacy."
Current Ohio Gov. John Kasich was equally ticked off, though slightly more eloquent, adding in a dig at Obama saying, "POTUS once again oversteps his bounds." Ohio Sen. Rob Portman echoed Kasich's jab at Obama in a series of tweets in which he criticized the president's actions, calling for another way to honor McKinley's presidency.
As Portman mentioned, discussion over what to call the Alaskan mountain had been a regular topic of conversation in Congress, mostly thanks to former Ohio Rep. Ralph Regula. Despite the fact that the Alaska board on Geographic Names had renamed the mountain back to Denali in 1975, Regula fought for more than 30 years to block federal recognition of the name change. Since Regula retired, current Ohio Rep. Rob Gibbs has taken up the mantle.
Needless to say, Gibbs was not pleased. Gibbs took the whole situation a step further by releasing a very intense looking statement on Twitter stating that "President Obama has decided to ignore an act of Congress in unilaterally renaming Mount McKinley," as part of his "job-killing war on energy." In addition, Gibbs believes that the "political stunt is insulting to all Ohioans."
Also jumping on the Denali hate-train was Republican strategist Karl Rove (not from Ohio), who took the opportunity to both insult Obama and plug his new book on McKinley. "You'd think that President Obama would be a lot more gracious to the man who made it possible for him to be president," Rove said, referring to McKinley's 1898 annexation of Hawaii, Obama's birthplace.
Never mind the fact that Obama's mother was a U.S. citizen, therefore making Obama eligible for citizenship no matter what. But let's not get into semantics. "The 25th president gets overlooked too much already," Rove told Politico. "Would hope the president would find another appropriate way to honor McKinley. Luckily there's a book coming out about McKinley in November." (Again, this is Rove's book.)
The best part of the GOP breakdown, however, has to be the shining endorsement that the name change received from Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who actually is from Alaska. "I'd like to thank the president for working with us to achieve this significant change, to show honor, respect and gratitude to the Athabaskan people of Alaska," Murkowski said in a video shot at Denali's base.
Alaskans have been calling the mountain Denali for decades, and the rest of the country will finally follow suit. But maybe if Ohio politicians ask nicely, they can find a way to honor McKinley in a more fitting way — like back home in Ohio.