What you can do if you don’t care what anybody says.
Senator Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) was a vocal critic both of President Obama’s executive-action opening to Cuba and his nuclear non-proliferation talks with Iran. In the midst of his loud opposition, he found himself suddenly the target of renewed federal charges that had aired much earlier without consequence. I think the message was not that the administration was worried over appearances, but rather that it wished to remind all of Washington that it actually welcomed the appearance of not being worried over the idea of federal prosecutorial power being used for tit-for-tat vendettas. Malice is a valuable political tool for Barack Obama.
Benjamin Netanyahu apparently bothered President Obama. What could that possibly entail, given the historic alliance between Israel and the United States? From the petty malice of Obama-administration aides leaking slurs that Netanyahu was a coward and chickens–t to the fundamental malevolence of community-organizing Netanyahu’s opponents in an effort to defeat him at the polls to leaking previously classified information about Israel’s nuclear deterrent, the message is again Chicagoan. Obama in adolescent fashion put it best in the 2008 campaign when he urged his flock, “I want you to argue with them and get in their face,” and when he later lifted a Chicago line from screenwriter David Mamet’s dialogue in The Untouchables to say to his base, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” No wonder Obama — despite having once been on the receiving end of a racial slur from Senator Harry Reid — recently praised the outgoing Senate majority leader, whose style and modus operandi were akin to Obama’s own.
During the seven years when Obama faced election, reelection, and two midterm elections, he warned on over 20 occasions that it would be neither legal nor ethical to grant executive amnesties to illegal aliens. What was stunning about his refrain was the high-minded manner in which he disarmed his base by warning them that he could not act unconstitutionally. But once he faced no more referenda on his power, he cared little about polls that showed widespread disapproval of amnesty, and simply began issuing the sort of presidential fiats that he had correctly said he didn’t have the power to issue.
The Right was shocked by the brazen hypocrisy of Obama, who once warned the country of just the sort of renegade president that he proved to be. But that again misses the point. Obama was not embarrassed, but emboldened, by the disconnect, as if to say, “I not only bypassed Congress to issue amnesties, but also refuted my own warnings that to do so would be illegal. And so what are you going about it?” If the speeder goes through a red light with impunity right in front of a parked patrolman, what then do we think of the patrolman, the speeder — and the sanctity of traffic lights?
We see the Chicago way with Iran as well. In the midst of negotiations, Iran’s supreme leader chants the tired mantra “Death to America.” The Iranian military builds a mockup of a U.S. carrier to practice attacks on it. The Obama position proves more lenient than that of either the U.N. or our European partners, which is not an easy thing to do. Yet Obama doubles down and continues full bore to squeeze out any kind of agreement he can — even if that means it might be merely oral, not written, and a bastardized treaty somehow designed to avoid Senate scrutiny. The point is not that all this is outrageous, but rather that it is deliberately outrageous, again begging the question, “So what are you going to do about it?” Obama’s Chicago sense appeals to the lowest common denominator: The more brazenly he is making a point, the more he thinks he will earn a certain admiration from his base, a sense of some sort that he is capable of anything and that progressive morality trumps antiquated laws. The full Obama reminds me of a high-school incident when a teacher corralled an aggressor accused of serially bullying another student; when he asked the perpetrator to apologize to his target, the aggressor instead slugged his victim in front of the teacher, and shouted, “What are you going to do about it?”
Some thought Obama’s serial untruths about Obamacare would doom the ill-fated program: Millions really did lose their plans; they lost their doctors as well; Obamacare proved not to lower but to raise costs; it did not shrink the deficit but caused more federal expense. When Obama picked and chose which parts of the federal law he would enforce, others objected that it was patently illegal for an executive not to faithfully execute laws on the books. But again, that is exactly the point: If a president can lie about a program to secure its passage and, when it proves flawed, select elements to discard or delay, then he can do almost anything — and we should appreciate that he can do almost anything.
If the president believes that, after all the shenanigans of Lois Lerner, there is still not even a “smidgen” of corruption in the IRS, then the shot across the bow is not that the IRS is now politicized, but that it is hopelessly politicized. Again,what are we going to do about it?
In the old Clinton–Gingrich formula of budget give-and-take, when the national debt was about a third of the present $18 trillion, Republicans agreed to defense cuts and tax increases, and Democrats conceded budget freezes, and eventually for a time there was a balanced budget, gimmicks and all. Under Obama, Republicans are to agree to defense cuts and tax hikes — while Obama increases social spending, runs $600 billion annual deficits, laments frugality and austerity, and lets others worry about the crushing debt incurred on his watch, the diminution of national security, and the stifling effect of tax hikes. What is the next president going to do — raise taxes higher, cut popular entitlements, disband the Marine Corps, and scrounge to pay down the debt?
Obama has chosen to skip various widely attended anniversaries, including the liberation of Auschwitz and the Battle of Gettysburg. He passed on the commemorative march of world leaders who condemned the terrorist killings in Paris. Critics pounced. How does the president have time to meet with GloZell, do his March Madness NCAA-tournament basketball picks, or banter with Internet bloggers if he cannot meet with the current chief of NATO? Why does he jet out to California to do Jimmy Kimmel, but refuse to fly to Paris to show solidarity against Islamic violence? Why would Obama fly all the way to Denmark to lobby for a Chicago Olympics, but not attend the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall? Again, those are the wrong questions.
Whether Obama avoided these events out of lassitude or by intent matters little: The point is that it was his pleasure not to attend any of them. The full Obama cares nothing about appearances. Indeed, he feels that such disdain magnifies his godhead, as someone absolutely immune to tradition, protocol, and criticism. Say that he golfs too much, and he will golf even more. You object that he sermonizes on global warming while setting records for use of Air Force One, often on a parallel track with his wife’s jumbo jet, or lectures farmers on the California drought for a few minutes on his way to hit the Palm Springs irrigated golf courses? All that is not the disconnect, but the point.
It is distasteful for a president to weigh in on a local, ongoing, and racially charged criminal case. Obama not only did just that with the Trayvon Martin shooting, but in such a way that could only exacerbate racial tensions — and in a reactionary fashion of expressing solidarity with critics of George Zimmerman on the basis of his own shared skin color with the deceased. If President Clinton had editorialized in mediis rebus about the O.J. trial with something like “Nicole might have looked liked the second daughter I never had,” then we would have assumed not just that he was a racist, but that he wanted us to think he was a racist — and that we could not do much about that fact.
Susan Rice on five televised occasions lied about Benghazi when she serially insisted that the deaths of four Americans were due to a spontaneous demonstration over a video — a deception she never later corrected. More recently, she insisted that Bowe Bergdahl served with “honor and distinction” when she knew that most of the evidence clearly pointed to his being a deserter at best and a traitor at worse, and that the five Afghan terrorists we freed in the exchange from Guantanamo were the worst of the worst in captivity there. Just as Rice was promoted to national security adviser after the Benghazi untruth, so too she knows there will be no fallout over her flat-out distortions about Bergdahl. Obama’s point, again, is not that Rice has a problem with the truth, but that the fact of a national security adviser’s disingenuousness is of absolutely no consequence.
What then is the full Obama presidency? It is the quest for extralegal power not just by ignoring the law, tradition, or custom, but by doing so flagrantly and without concern, to the point of rendering critics impotent — and thereby accruing even more power to enrage and embarrass them. In similar circumstances, the Roman biographer Suetonius noted of the Twelve Caesars that the offense itself was not so much the point, but rather the demonstration of committing the offense with impunity and disdain.
Once that pen-and-phone threshold has been crossed, anything is possible — and even the critics of Obama now belatedly accept that. In brilliantly diabolical fashion, the president of the United States has all but ruined the Democratic party in Congress and the state legislatures, but has also confounded his Republican opponents by not caring a whit about his own nihilism — as if he is supposed to worry about ending the congressional careers of his supposed allies?
After all, if someone is going to ignore the law or what tradition demands, then why does he need a legislative majority to do it? Obama is more powerful in defeat than he ever was in victory. Like a seasoned Chicago pol, he reminds his auditors and critics that not only does he not care about the appearance of his actions, but also that no else does either. He all but says, “Each time I issue an illegal executive order, my polls go up, and the more my enemies howl and my friends cringe.” It becomes more hazardous — ask Senator Menendez or an audited Tea Party group — to object to an Obama abuse than for Obama to commit the abuse, which makes further abuse only more certain.
Given media obsequiousness, Obama feels that little scrutiny of his actions will follow. A move toward impeachment he might even hope for, given his iconic status and the community-organizing chance to smear anyone foolish enough to try it as a racist or bigot. If his conduct hurts the future of Hillary Clinton, who cares? Or rather, perhaps there is a hint that the damage was by intent. If Obama’s executive-order presidency weakens the stature of the U.S. abroad, then maybe it needed to be weakened. In a country where almost any law can be contravened by an executive order, where any statute can die through selective non-enforcement, where the IRS can hound opponents, where Israel is the enemy and Iran the friend, and even a senatorial ally can face indictment, anything is now possible.
And was not that the point all along?
29 thoughts on “Obama’s Chicago Presidency”
Victor, you point out the many points of the Obama presidency, and I agree. You should also point out that the Republicans or conservatives or democrats, , stand by and let it happen. What ever happened to impeachment? His opponents are “just as bad” as they sit by and do nothing,except complain,when they have the power to act.
Why?, because they are feeding at the same trough.
Mr. Hanson’s focus was clear. It’s important not to spread yourself so thin & Obama’s overreach has nothing to do with the GOP. Nothing to do with it whatsoever.
Why doesn’t Congress impeach Obama? I’m sure you could get well over the required 2/3’s of Republicans to convict, but without significant support from the Democrats, it will never happen and worse they’ll be painted by the Obama poodle media as racist and trying to “reverse an election”.
Don’t blame the Republicans. The Democrats long ago sold their soul to this traitor.
Sending his horse to the Senate in 3…2…
“When in the course of Human events…”
Spot on brilliant Prof Hanson. The most concise and cogent analysis of the thug regime I’ve seen. Thank you.
I think you’re forgetting one thing, however.
This “in your face/I don’t give a crap” approach by our President can backfire big-time as in the case of telling Senator Cruz “up yours” following his sterling filibuster of Obamacare by initiating his Obamacare website, knowing full well it wasn’t ready. This “anger mistake” by Obama resulted in exposing to all Americans all the lies he told in the process of getting it passed which crashed his approval rating that has never recovered .
He’s doing the same thing again with his stiffing the Israeli PM & the Congress on Iran. The result wiil be a veto proof bill which is now coming his way that will severely curtail his ability to define our countries Iranian policy and limit its execution.
“What are you going to do about it?” I’ve been reading this stuff for at least a couple of years. Don’t you have a vaunted checks-and-balances system that prevents this?
“” for the first time in history, California governor orders mandatory water cuts amid unprecedented,dangerous situation,”” from zero hedge. The Jerry Brown way, invite everyone in and by the way, here’s your cup of drinkable sewage water.
Good points that remind me of the old saying about ‘fool me once…..fool me twice…..’ No need to guess what that says about the voters who elected him for the second time. And they might vote again in the next election!
The obvious solution to Obama and his gang is the same solution that has been used for millennia. I’m surprised that everyone is afraid to admit or accept it. It has been euphemistically referred to as workplace violence by Obama and his minions.
Across the administration, they piss on us and ask “Isn’t the rain refreshing?”
The point is to subjugate, to humiliate, to rub our noses in their power. They get their sadistic rocks off by violating others.
The point, the thrill, is to abuse and gloat “What you gonna do about it?”
“Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”
― George Orwell, 1984
Hubris is not an impeachable offense. Mr. Obama remains “untouchable” as long as the accusation of racism is as good as being convicted of racism. He and his administration can deflect any criticism by accusation and innuendo alone.
Thank you, Professor H. At least I have some psychic comfort from hearing you voice what I feel like I’m watching happen before my own eyes. It feels like the bricks of tyranny are being baked in the oven right now and it’s only a matter of time before the walls go up, unfortunately. I’ve got to pray more!
Obama will do what he wants and the country be dammed. The Republicans are so paralyzed with fear of being call, “racist, sexist, bigots and homophobes” they have been rendered impotent and really have no way of stopping him.
I wouldn’t put it past Obama to suspend the 2016 elections, telling us that we need him more than ever while throwing in….”it’s the right thing to do!” Unfortunately, with the press being nothing more than ‘State Controlled Media, they would most likely happily go along with him.
So what are we going to do about it?? So far nothing. Any suggestions?
This is the question that surprisingly few ask, and it’s the only question that matters.
How do we fight back against the unaccountable apparatchik state and the Imperial Dear Leaders at the top?
Excellent analysis. I, however, believe that Obama does what he does in a planned, calculated and preconceived program to damage and if possible destroy America which he hates deeply. Unfortunatly, he is
acheiving his malignant goals with impunity with the help of an obeisant media. Only impeachment will prevent further damage to our society.
If anything is possible, what does he expect will come of him, once he no longer holds the wheels of power? Does he expect they will always be held by him, or that his own people he has burned will protect him, or won’t have their own bones to pick with him?
Chicago pols may fly high when they are king, but they always seem to end up ruined or jailed by the time the party is over. Perhaps he just does not care?
This over reach is possible because of:
1. A lack of courage and conviction in our elected officials to stand for the rule of law and use their constitutional powers to obstruct and reign in the Executive branch. I cannot call our elected officials leaders as I would not follow anyone whose convictions were as firm as the shifting wind.
2. A complicit and complacent media which does not act on behalf of the citizenry, but instead acts as a propagandist arm of the Obama administration. Our 5th estate is largely an echo chamber for the The Great and Powerful O’s pronouncements.
3. A distracted, ambivalent, and self obsessed citizenry. In the end the real fault lies with us, the citizens of the United States. We elected these officials and this paper Caesar twice. They reflect, sadly, a moral weakness and ambivalence endemic in the citizens of our country.
If we expect more of ourselves and of one another, then we can begin to expect more of our officials and change our country.
Hillary withholds and destroys official government emails, continuing the gradual shift away from ours being a government based on the rule of law..
“” top 10 weird facts about California’s drought “”, from breitbart. Drowning in mindless bureaucrats.
Once again, fault lies with the American media. Without their enabling, Obama would never get away with his malicious and illegal actions.
Throughout his political career, Obama has carried two banners or marks of socialism and its confinments. You are correct that he is the archietect of social strife in reference with Iran. Imperalism and less diplomacy would be better served by our country than socialism. The United States would be better served by a President that practiced many of the foundations and superstructures of Empire that were erected. Trade and foreign policy must follow the American flag. President Obama is not the poet of American self-confidence. A world where dipolomacy did not exist and Imperalism was popular made our country great. We will eventually have to fight a war with Iran as we did with Iraq, and it would be better to take small segments of countries in the Middle East. England’s old empire saw the merits of trade expansion that would benefit humanity, and the Empire, as did Greece and Rome. The United States must get back to a strong leader and leadership that brings world-dominance, and a “place in the sun….” For Obama dialect not force is not right in his dominant factors or wishful thinking in Iran. President Obama continues to neglect the fact that he still holds the reigns of the strongest nation in the world. Under President Obama nationlism seems dead. The United States hold’s no supremacy. The bulk of the middle-class has no committment to nationalism or Obama’s lack of foreign policy. He certainly is not at the Pantheon of empire-building.
Under Obama Isis continues to challenge the United States position in which Obama does little or nothing. The United States foes and enemies mean to challenge our world position in America, but Obama does nothing but practice diplomatic policy. The two main streams of Obama’s plan is step back and do nothing. His policy is a forced policy of diplomacy that is one of peace, not war on terror, of internal organization and not of outward expansion that could help keep the balance of power in the middle east with vested interest by the United States . The deteroation of the United States is sad to see under Mr. Obama. Dipolomacy is not the only way that the United States can cope with nuclear threats by other countries. Military force is still the strongest and the best way. Iran has no good will toward the United States, and Barack is a foul for thinking otherwise. International cooperation is really needed. In the Grey, really armaments make for more security than peace talks or treaties. Obama is insecure in his beliefs on dipolomacy and it is easy to see his thoughts and dealings of weak leadership the kind that mimics the United Nations. Iran and the United States will never really iron out their differences. Nuclear weapons is their existence. Just as they are our existence and they still exist in our country. It is existence that is expansion to them and existence to us. Wars in the Middle East should see the United States going back to the days of imperialism and expansion, now with diplomacy that does nothing the roots of American Supremacy has been lost. Obama has no clear direction, as he thinks that he has made reasonable efforts to turn nuclear arms aside perhaps it is invitable that in the process he may start World War III with his diplomacy and give Isis who is funded by Iran the ability to fling more at the United States. The practice of appeasement and diplomacy is the cowardly act that President Obama keeps exercising. It was this mentality that caused the Rise of the Nazi Regime and World War II. Obama’s removal of the Churchill bust is symbolic for his poor leadership and his lack of statesmanship…..
I have also stubbled upon some reasearch on Patton that has promoted short work by me on if he was Schizophrenic. I enjoy your writtings on Patton. Best to you,
Caruthers, California 2015
Dr Hanson….do you think theres a point where we will stop talking, waxing eloquent, and impressing with observations, roll up our sleeves and start kicking somebody’s ass?
I’ve been hanging on your words for over ten years and the number of times I’ve disagreed with you I could count on one hand…but we’re still being bulldozed under.
I think the real questions are these: Can the US survive another 2 years as a constitutional republic when its president so openly and so brazenly violates the Constitution daily? And even if we believe that it can, has Obama created such a strong precedent that any future president will resort to bypassing the Constitution whenever he/she sees not constitutional way to impose his/her will? In other words, has Obama demonstrated that the Constitution, as it stands, is flawed as it does not provide the necessary balance to Executive overreach when the legislative bodies are complicit with the President’s disregard for the Law?
The factor enabling Obama’s tyranny is the lack of an opposition party. The GOP is fully complicit in the depravity, having sold its soul to the Chamber Of Commerce in exchange for mountains of cash. The Republican Congress is nothing more than a corporate lobbying organization, indifferent to everything except lavishing its benefactors with corporate welfare. The miscreant residing in the Oval Office thrives due to the collaboration of the whores on Capitol Hill.
The American experiment has come full circle, all the way back to taxation without representation. And with Gallup showing that half the public approves of Obama’s fascism, the entropy will only accelerate.
I listened to a Chicago political radio show last weekend, for about an hour. I didn’t hear one inference about “Americans” just an hour of talking about black vote v. Mexican vote, Mexican vote v. Puerto Rican vote, White v. all vote, ad nauseum. It was all they managed to conjure up in their brains, except Rahm was for Wall St. and that his Mexican socialist opponent was “for the people”. Intellectual midgets.
It reinforced my conviction that Progressivism and modern liberalism is tribalism and for the balkanization of nations. Obama is perfectly of this Chicago mold, and has shown not much more than pettiness and infantile governance. They also praised Obama that he was “working with Iran” and that any means of getting peace with Iran was the utmost, never even entertaining the question of appeasement brought up by the radio host (it immediately cut to break without a mention of it following the break)