Over the past seven years, I’ve met with President Barack Obama at the White House a number of times to discuss the highs and lows of American history. Starting around 2012, when he realized the Republicans in Congress were going to sabotage his agenda, he turned to the ghost of Theodore Roosevelt, the patron saint of executive power, for guidance.
On the environmental front, Obama became fascinated with Roosevelt’s innovative use of the Antiquities Act of 1906 to save the Grand Canyon from destruction by commercial developers and mining interests. Standing on the lip of that divine abyss, Roosevelt declared, “Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.” In 1908, when Congress refused to establish a national park, Roosevelt signed Executive Order No. 794, creating Grand Canyon National Monument — a way-station to becoming a full-fledged National Park in 1919.