Isn't This a Bit Premature?

CBS News reports:

A school on Long Island has been renamed Barack Obama Elementary School in honor of his historic rise to the presidency.

The move at the largely black and Hispanic school in Hempstead is among the first in what will likely be a wave of name changes around the world now that Mr. Obama has been elected president, from schools and streets to parks and mountaintops.

The prime minister of the Caribbean nation of Antigua has said he's taking measures to have the island's highest mountain peak renamed Mount Obama. In Portland, Ore., students want to rename Clark K-8 At Binnsmead school. Elsewhere on Long Island, the Clear Stream Avenue School in Valley Stream will consider a renaming resolution in December....

The name Barack Obama Elementary School was the idea of children at the former Ludlum Elementary School, according to officials at Hempstead Union Free School District....

I wish President-Elect Obama does an excellent job, and if he does, he will be worth naming things after. But right now no-one really knows whether he'll be an excellent President, a mediocre President, a poor President, or a very bad President. (Keep in mind the sobering story of the Richard M. Nixon Freeway -- the name that the Marina Freeway in Los Angeles bore for a few years in the early 1970s.)

Of course, Obama has already achieved the status of the first black President, and it's quite natural for people -- especially, but not only, blacks -- to admire and celebrate this achievement, which is indeed quite stunning given American history of not so long ago. Likewise, I'm sure American Catholics celebrated John F. Kennedy's achievement of being the first Catholic President in 1960, as did non-Catholics who welcomed this marker of the decline of anti-Catholic sentiment. Other groups have celebrated similar milestones.

But important as getting a job might be, especially under the circumstances, the ultimate goal of getting the job has to be to do the job well. That's long been the premise of antidiscrimination law, and even many supporters of race- and sex-based affirmative action endorse it: The goal is to give blacks and members of other groups the same opportunity to do important jobs well -- and to help others through doing the job well -- that others have. And until a successful candidate does the job well, however historic his successful candidacy may have been, it seems to me that people should hold off on renaming institutions and landmarks in his honor.