Aloha President Obama,
They call you the ocean president. I’m sure you know why.
You sextupled the size of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. That was back in 2014 and it was triple the size of California. Then, last year, you quadrupled Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument to twice the size of Texas. You protected many animals, including a newly discovered fish, Tosanoides Obama. You kept drilling at bay from our Alaskan waters, Arctic waters, and our beloved Atlantic waters. The ocean president reined.
As a surfer myself who works with Save The Waves, founded by Will Henry, a fellow community organizer — which you might’ve read about in your summer reading pick, Barbarian Days — I’m thankful for more than what you’ve done with our water in mind. I know you used to bodysurf off of Sandy Beach Park, so maybe you know this: we all saw you coming. The political waters rumbled from your DNC speech in 2004 and we could see we were in for the rise of a beautiful ride, like watching a glassy, double overhead wave roll right toward us. You pulled us in. You lifted us up. You moved us forward. You swept us away. You were our ocean — that blue badass.
And now your tide is dipping. There must have been, in our planet’s natural history, a first ripple in our oceans. A first current. A first wave. There were presidents before you, of course, but you felt new. A second-wave presidency for a second-wave citizenry. Thank you for forever turning the tide.
We’ve never met. But I’d like to. If you want, I’d love to take you and your family out for a surf and follow it up with $1 tacos at King Neptune’s on Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Don’t worry; the menu is healthy enough for Michelle to approve. You can call me Billy. But I promise I won’t call you Barry.
William Rinehart
OFA 2007-2012