“Building an environmental legacy with a simple signature”


President George W. Bush is receiving a lot of press these days. The coverage is positive, even laudatory, in acknowledging Mr. Bush’s role in using the Antiquities Act to establish large-scale ocean-focused national monuments during his final years in office.

Three themes appear in most of these media reports: One theme addresses the scale of the new monuments, one emphasizes the legacy-building aspects of presidential use of the Antiquities Act, and the third theme focuses on the bipartisan history of monument establishment over the past 108 years. Here are two examples:

From the New York Times, as seen October 1, 2014

“Mr. Obama’s Pacific Monument”

“It’s safe to assume that most presidents have big ambitions and visions of lasting Rooseveltian achievement. Though, in recent history, the millstones of Washington’s pettiness and partisanship usually grind such dreams to dust. There are exceptions, which happen when presidents discover the Antiquities Act.

This is the law, used by Theodore Roosevelt and many successors, by which the executive can permanently set aside public lands from exploitation, building an environmental legacy with a simple signature and without Congress’s consent. This is how President Obama last week, in addition to everything else on his plate, created the largest marine preserve in the world.”

So far, this NYT piece mentions Roosevelt (twice) but the final sentence brings the editorial around to George W. Bush.

“Republicans will complain, but they should remember that it was President George W. Bush who created the monument. Mr. Obama only expanded it. Building an environmental legacy is an idea with bipartisan appeal.”

Certainly there are many who will disagree, but this author is happy to go on record as saying that it has to be considered a good day when the New York Times’s Editorial Board name checks GWB in conjunction with Theodore Roosevelt, and throws in positive references to “bipartisan appeal” and “environmental legacy” to boot.

The next example, from The Wilderness Society (~September 29, 2014) looks even better for former President George W. Bush. In this piece, Roosevelt appears again (once), but Bush is referenced four times. Here, too, the themes of scale, legacy building, and bipartisanship are present throughout the article. This quote, from “Newly-expanded Pacific Ocean monument builds on bipartisan legacy,” is currently the lead story on The Wilderness Society’s web site:

“In protecting a large ocean monument, President Obama is in good (and bipartisan) historic company. President Bush originally protected the monument in 2009 along with two other marine monuments in the Pacific Ocean. Earlier, in 2006, President Bush had protected the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (originally called the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument). When he left office, Bush had set aside more square miles of ocean for protection than any political leader in U.S. history. The Antiquities Act has been used by presidents of both parties to preserve sites of unique natural and cultural value since President Theodore Roosevelt signed it into law in 1906.”

The Wilderness Society also includes a map showing the scale of the expanded monuments. Less immediately eye-catching than the graphic in the New York Times piece, this map works when the viewer locates the linear scale in the lower right corner and realizes that the circles representing the expanded monument boundaries are measured in hundreds of miles.


Image credit, quote sources, and links to full-text versions of the quoted material follow:

Image credit (above):  The New York Times Company 2014. Image title (via The New York Times Company):  “Bigger Than Texas.”

Source for title and quoted material in Example 1 is the The New York Times Company.

For the full text of the New York Times piece, please click here.

Source for quoted material in Example 2 is The Wilderness Society.

For the full text of The Wilderness Society piece, please click here.


“Building an Environmental Legacy with a Simple Signature”



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