Holidays with the Obamas in Hawaii

The Tings are vacationing with the Obamas this holiday season in Hawaii. Well, not exactly with the Obamas, but pretty close to the Obamas. Like the first family, we have rented an ocean front home in Kailua on the windward side of Oahu. Our house is outside the security zone set up around the presidential rental. Our ocean view is more rocks and crashing waves than beach, but if we walk 50 yards to the nearest beach access, we can look directly across the water at the Obamas’ rented home and the two white security tents set up on Kailua beach.

We walk every morning on that beach as far as those security tents, and around the security zone to get to the beach. The Obamas have chosen a great location, not only for the natural beauty, but also for the security, in a small neighborhood with a single street access, and backed by a canal which is now patrolled by the U.S. Coast Guard. The barricade across the only street entrance is manned by the Honolulu police among, no doubt, others.

This Kailua neighborhood is immediately adjacent to the big Marine Corps base at Kaneohe Bay. The base includes an oceanfront golf course, athletic facilities of all kinds, a chapel for worship, and opportunities to meet the troops and their families. The first family has visited the base for all those reasons.

Like the Obamas, we have a family connection to Hawaii. Unlike the Obamas we don’t come here every year. We are here this year to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary in the place where we met 40 years ago as graduate students at the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii.

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So, boys and girls, go ahead and marry that nice person you just met. Who knows, it’s possible that it could work out, right?

One cannot overstate the breathtaking natural beauty of Hawaii. America made an understandable choice to steal these islands from the Hawaiian people a century ago, like a shoplifter presented with an irresistible opportunity to make off with something precious and unique.

President Obama is the first kama’aina or local Hawaii person elected to national office, having attended and graduated from high school in Honolulu where he was born. He has relatives and long-time friends here, and is widely beloved as a local boy made good.

The presidential motorcades which are reviled elsewhere for disrupting traffic are accepted with equanimity here, although traffic on Oahu can get as congested as anywhere else. Kama’ainas respect the first family’s privacy. They are happy that the President returns here every year with his family. Everyone knows his visits and the photos and publicity that result are good for tourism, the number one industry of Hawaii.

No state is more securely in President Obama’s column for the 2012 election than Hawaii. Traditionally and still pretty much a one-party state dominated by the Democratic party, there is a newly rejuvenated Republican party in Hawaii whose standard-bearer is two-term former Governor Linda Lingle. She will be the Republican candidate in 2012 for the open U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Daniel Akaka, and her advertising appears every day now on the website of Honolulu’s only daily newspaper the Star Advertiser.

The Democrats appear to be headed for another of their no-holds-barred primaries to select their Senate candidate, which should be a promising development for Governor Lingle, who faces no Republican primary. Except that with President Obama at the top of the ticket, turn-out will be heavy in 2012, and the political wind in Hawaii will be at the back of whoever becomes the Democratic nominee.

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