Green President? Roger Kennedy Says No

Sharks, Hawaiian Islands National Monument : NOAA PhotoEarlier this week, in response to the post of Roger Kennedy's Antiquities Act speech, a reader had posed a question. He was wondering what Mr. Kennedy's reflections would be on President Bush's use of the Antiquities Act in his recent (6/15/06) designation of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Monument.

Roger Kennedy has had the opportunity to respond. I find his comments below to be particularly incisive, cutting directly to a motive for Bush's new-found love of environmental conservation policy. Kennedy's thoughts on the matter:
President Bush is taking care of the neighborhood --- though not of the environment. The neighborhood on his mind is the circle of suburban congressional districts where Republicans are vulnerable and the voters care about the environment. So he and his agents are doing everything they can to declare easy victories ---'Mission Accomplished!' -- underwater off Hawaii, where there are no developers to offend, and where all but about 10% of the area was already well protected. 'Mission Accomplished' -- by NOT issuing radical and destructive revisions in the management policies for the National Park Service--- nothing affirmative done ' just refraining from carrying out a threat! And for these, the suburbs are to rejoice.

The Antiquities Act was designed to offer occasions for brave presidents to do brave things ' and from Theodore Roosevelt to Bill Clinton, they did. Now we are observing a series of Profiles in Cowardice.
What more can be said? I think his comments are bold, and dead-on accurate. Do you?


Mr. Kennedy's remarks are apt. I think there is another reason for concern, too, and it was captured in the New York Times article by Andrew Revkin, who quoted a senior administration official on Bush's motivation: "He said, Look, I've got this power, I'm going to use it."

This is simply the green instance of President Bush's central tendency, which is to maximize the exercise of his own authority and minimize the means by which it can be checked.

Needless to say, sound conservation is only one of the valuable things put at risk by the mindset behind this kind of decision-making.