Visit hopefully left President with nuanced view of Alaska

  • Saturday, September 5, 2015 6:52pm
  • Opinion

Alaska and the Kenai Peninsula

marked an historic occasion this past week as President Barack Obama paid a three-day visit to our state.

First, we’d like to note that, regardless of your politics, a visit from the President of the United States is a thrill, and we’re glad the Kenai Peninsula was a part of it.

Of course, President Obama came with his own agenda, highlighting the effects of climate change across the state. His visit pretty much stuck to the script — he spoke at a climate change conference in Anchorage, saw retreating glaciers near Seward, talked with subsistence fishermen and their families in Dillingham, and saw a seawall built to withstand greater storm surges in Kotzebue.

In fact, President Obama wasn’t here so much to learn about Alaska himself, but rather to use what’s happening here in an effort to spur action elsewhere. It’s an attitude that tends to rankle Alaskans, regardless of who the visitor happens to be.

But, like many visitors who come to Alaska with preconceived notions of what they’ll find, we hope what President Obama discovered is that this state is more vibrant and rich than what’s depicted on reality TV or in reruns of “Northern Exposure” — and that the challenges we face and potential solutions are much more complex.

During his visit, President Obama commented that he’d like to come back to Alaska with his wife and daughter. While we can’t read the president’s mind, we hope that sentiment is sincere, and that, with his visit, he has come to the realization that there’s much more to the story to be explored. Alaska tends to have that effect on people.

Now, we’re not advocating that a popular recreation area or boat harbor be shut down again so the president and his family can go for a hike or go whale watching.

What we are saying is that so many decisions about Alaska’s future — from energy to education to resource development to health care — are being made by people based on what they think they know about Alaska, whether those assumptions are accurate or not.

President Obama’s visit has made quite an impression on Alaska. We hope what he found here in Alaska has left just as lasting an impression on him.

More in Opinion

Opinion: Humanism and the billionaire class

Compromise is the right thing to do and they should do it.

Opinion: The challenged truths of 3 elected representatives

“Politicians lying is nothing new.”

This photo shows the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The wrong way to define demand

And as glaciers go, the Mendenhall is only a minor attraction.

Zachary Hamilton (Courtesy photo)
Borough mayoral candidate: ‘The best is yet to come’

Zachary Hamilton is running for Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor in the special election

Love, INC in Soldotna, Alaska, provides homelessness prevention and housing services to people on the Kenai Peninsula. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: COVID relief funds help homeless children in Alaska

We need to sustain this kind of investment.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Alaska must act now to capitalize on carbon markets

Alaska has vast forests and coastlines that can provide natural carbon management

Opinion: MLK Day clinics offered in the ‘spirit of service and advocacy for equality and social justice’

Attorneys across the state will be spending their holiday as “A Day On, Not a Day Off”

The M/V Tustumena comes into Homer after spending the day in Seldovia in 2010. (Homer News File)
Opinion: New federal funding could aid Alaska Marine Highway System

The evidence is clear that the AMHS is in grave danger of failing and moving into Alaska’s history books

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: I’ve seen the union difference

As a community we can show solidarity…

(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Sullivan’s irrelevance in defense of democracy

Two years ago this week, supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol…

People vote in polling booths at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: What’s on your 2023 schedule so far?

There is a Kenai Peninsula Borough Special Mayoral Election coming up in February

Soldotna City Council member Dave Carey testifies in support of the Kenai Peninsula Reentry Coalition during a meeting of the Kenai City Council on Wednesday, March 16, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Vote Carey for borough mayor

I know the responsibilities and obligations of being borough mayor