In an Feb. 14 Wall Street Journal article, Michael Medved asserts, by way of title, “Obama Isn’t Trying to ‘Weaken America.’” A film critic and generally conservative cultural commentator, Medved only approaches the primary thrust of his argument in his final paragraph when he writes:
Americans may not see a given president as their advocate, but they’re hardly disposed to view him as their enemy — and a furtive, determined enemy at that. For 2012, Republicans face a daunting challenge in running against the president. That challenge becomes impossible if they’re also perceived as running against the presidency.
As a 2012 political strategy, Medved’s final point is, as far as it goes, reasonable. However, the rest of his essay often argues against his thesis, which seems to be that Mr. Obama is not consciously trying to harm America and is a conventional American president and politician with conventional political goals and aspirations. If one assumes, for the sake of argument, that this is true — if Mr. Obama is, with the best intentions and with good will, pursuing policies that are manifestly harmful to America and Americans — the end result is the same. The matter of his motivations will doubtless be a ripe controversy for future historians, but will matter little to contemporary Americans, who will suffer regardless.
Medved begins his essay with a quote from John Adams: “I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessing on this house and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May not but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.” Medved mentions some who were not so wise and honest in making the point that the quality of our presidents has always been limited by the fact that we are limited to choosing from the human race. “For all their foibles, every president attempted to rise to the challenges of leadership and never displayed disloyal or treasonous intent. This history makes some of the current charges about Barack Obama especially distasteful — and destructive to the conservative cause.” Perhaps, but only if Mr. Obama is unquestionably a member of that august company.
Mr. Medved quotes a number of prominent conservative commentators to level a blanket criticism:
None of the attacks on Mr. Obama’s intentions offers an even vaguely plausible explanation of how the evil genius, once he has ruined our “strength, influence and standard of living,” hopes to get himself re-elected. In a sense, the president’s most paranoid critics pay him a perverse compliment in maintaining that his idealism burns with such pure, all-consuming heat that he remains blissfully unconcerned with minor matters like his electoral future. They label Mr. Obama as the political equivalent of a suicide bomber: so overcome with hatred (or “rage”) that he’s perfectly willing to blow himself up in order to inflict casualties on a society he loathes.
Thinking that Mr. Obama is a conventional American politician who will react in predictable, rational ways to common American political stimuli is a common mistake, so it is unsurprising that Mr. Medved makes it. But Mr. Obama manifestly and demonstrably is not a convention politician. The evidence is stark and easy to find for those willing to see.
Mr. Obama is a doctrinaire socialist who does not, perhaps cannot, see that the pursuit of socialist policies is harmful to America and harmful to his electoral prospects. He simply can’t bring himself to believe that the public won’t ultimately be grateful to him and catapult him back into the White House. Recall that he has, on more than one occasion, said that people ought to be thanking him for imposing socialist policies, and in making those statements, seemed genuinely puzzled and angry that they were not.
Begin with the reality that Mr. Obama is a socialist. Those doubting this assertion of fact need only refer to Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism. There, Stanley Kurtz meticulously and undeniably lays bare Mr. Obama’s socialist education, associations, mentoring, roots, beliefs, and actions. Let us also keep in mind that socialism, like Marxism, is fundamentally incompatible with freedom, democracy, and capitalism as embodied in America’s founding documents and as practiced in America. If Mr. Obama is indeed a socialist — and he is — then his belief system, his way of thinking, is innately hostile to America. Socialism and American democracy cannot coexist, so if Mr. Obama is pursuing socialist policies, American democracy must, of necessity, be weakened or destroyed.
But if this is true, how did Mr. Obama become president? It boils down to this: He lied. He lied about who he is, about his background, his fundamental beliefs, his intentions, and his methods. He employed standard Marxist/socialist tactics and concealed his true nature so as to seize power and impose his will, and for two years, he pretty much got away with it. A recurring theme of Mr. Medved’s article is that such things are impossible, as Mr. Obama — like all politicians — wants to be reelected. Put aside, for the moment, that Mr. Obama has addressed this issue explicitly, saying that he’d rather accomplish his (socialist) goals than be a two-term president.
Consider then the following examples, not by any means an exhaustive list:
(1) Mr. Obama’s 2012 budget flies in the face of fiscal and political reality. Not only does it fail to actually cut spending, it dramatically increases spending — and the deficit — far into the future, while raising taxes, ignoring the entitlement crisis, and continuing the promulgation of policies that can have no result other than to destroy the creation of wealth, jobs, and the economy. America is broke, beyond broke, and the utter dissolution of our existing entitlements — not considering ObamaCare — is imminent. Unemployment is arguably at 10.3%; virtually every economic indicator is in the toilet. Any responsible president, any president for whom the welfare of the nation is his first concern, will not propose a budget that spends, now and into the future, far more money than America produces and can possibly take in or repay. Yet Mr. Obama wants to spend billions on projects like high-speed rail, a boondoggle the public neither wants nor needs.
(2) Since taking office, Mr. Obama has serially and crudely insulted our strongest and most faithful allies, such as Great Britain and Israel, while extending “outreach” to virtually every thuggish, repressive, anti-democratic regime on the planet. His repeated threats to establish yet another deadline when Iran violates the last have established only his impotence. Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, and all Mr. Obama can do is threaten to trot out even more threatening rhetoric.
(3) Mr. Obama’s neophyte involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” has served only to destroy it. He tried to force concessions on Israel that even Palestinian President Abbas admitted the Palestinians did not want, destroying any contemporary chance for peace.
(4) Mr. Obama’s statements and policies, across the board, are nothing less than Islamic boosterism. Any president serving as a cheerleader for say, Catholicism, would be rightfully criticized, but a starstruck media and a benumbed public have nothing to say when the head of NASA announces a new, primary mission, handed down from Mr. Obama, to make Muslims feel good about the scientific accomplishments of their ancient ancestors. Of course, since Mr. Obama has impaired NASA’s budget to the point of driving it entirely out of space, ancient Muslim outreach may be all that it can afford to do.
(5) One of the only constants in Mr. Obama’s foreign policy is a reflexive, mindless support for Marxist and/or Islamist despotism. Take the example of Honduras, where a Marxist president attempted to overthrow the Honduran Constitution and install himself as ruler for life. Adhering to the rule of law, the Hondurans threw him out of office and out of the country. Mr. Obama immediately sided with the Marxist, and has personally, and through the State Department, supported him against the Honduran rule of law ever since.
(6) Mr. Obama has appointed avowed Marxists (Van Jones) and worshippers of Communist mass murderers (Anita Dunn) to high-ranking positions in his administration. For any other American president, even contemplating such appointments would be unthinkable. For Mr. Obama, so low have our expectations sunk that it’s almost unremarkable.
(7) Venezuela has taken delivery of some 2,000 Russian man-portable, anti-aircraft missiles. It has entered into an agreement with Iran to build ground-to-ground missile bases in Venezuela, stocked with Iranian missiles capable of carrying nuclear and/or biological warheads that could reach virtually anywhere in America. Mr. Obama has had nothing to say about this, and has apparently done nothing at all to stop it. Did I mention that Mr. Chavez is also going to build a nuclear reactor capable of producing weapons-grade materials? Neither did Mr. Obama.
(8) Mr. Obama has done enormous harm to immigration policy and national security. He has sued Arizona for daring to try to enforce immigration laws that he will not, and surrendered huge portions of the southern United States to terrorists and drug cartels, posting signs warning Americans to stay out of those areas for their own safety.
(9) Mr. Obama and his administration refuse to identify our Islamist enemy, and continue to pursue policies that make Americans far less safe, including trying terrorists in civilian courts and establishing a paralyzing regime of political correctness in every governmental institution. Despite recent speeches by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, all acknowledging not only the failure but danger of multicultural political correctness, Mr. Obama shows no sign of abandoning socialist multi-culti orthodoxy.
(10) When the Iranian public rose up against the mullahs, Mr. Obama ignored them, giving lip service to “bearing witness.” When the Egyptian uprising occurred, Mr. Obama flip- flopped, offering support to the protestors one day and to Mr. Mubarak the next. He succeeded only in alienating virtually everyone in the region, giving Islamists a boost by declining to delegitimize the Muslim Brotherhood, and encouraging its involvement in an Egyptian government. In so doing, he convinced the leaders of every Middle Eastern nation that as an enemy, America under Obama is harmless, and as a friend, fickle and treacherous.
(11) Under Eric Holder, Mr. Obama’s Justice Department has pursued blatantly racist and class warfare policies, refusing to pursue — as a matter of internally declared policy — cases where non-blacks are discriminated against in violation of federal law. Mr. Holder has also allowed states to blatantly violate federal law that requires that overseas members of our military receive absentee ballots prior to elections. (Our military members tend to vote overwhelmingly for conservatives.)
(12) While decrying America’s reliance on regimes hostile to American interests for energy, Mr. Obama has cut off domestic exploration and production, actually saying that he wants energy prices to “necessarily skyrocket” to better force socialist policies on the public. He has announced his goal of destroying the coal industry in America. His administration has ignored court orders to issue new drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico and has blatantly doctored scientific evidence — and been caught in the attempt — to support its unsupportable policies.
(13) Mr. Obama rammed through ObamaCare against the wishes of the public, and has continually lied about its contents, effects, costs, and consequences. Even though Great Britain and Canada are beginning to back away from the well-documented daily horrors of socialized medicine, Mr. Obama blindly rushes ahead into that pit of despair. The largest single entitlement program in history, ObamaCare alone will bankrupt the nation. This despite the fact that without considering ObamaCare, Mr. Obama has spent more money — money that we do not have — in only two years in office than every other president combined. He is laboring mightily to make things worse, much worse.
(14) Mr. Obama federalized the entire student loan industry as part of ObamaCare (!) — apparently as prelude to his oft-expressed desire that everyone attend college on the public dime, equally apparently whether they need (or want) to or not. Add to this faulty calculation the bursting of the higher education bubble, fueled by out-of-control loan and tuition costs, and by the fact that a bachelor’s degree no longer guarantees employment or an enhanced yearly wage. Mr. Obama’s actions serve only to further depress the private sector, reducing tax revenues while providing no public benefit.
(15) Under the guise of saving it, Mr. Obama has federalized 2/3 of the domestic auto industry, enriching his union supporters.
(16) Mr. Obama and his various State Department functionaries, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have so berated America in foreign capitals and elsewhere that their enmity toward America can scarcely be denied. Any man who spoke of the alleged failings and faults of his wife the way Mr. Obama and his administration speak of America would be hard pressed to make anyone believe that he loved and respected her.
Imagine, if you will, a socialist/Marxist president whose party controlled both houses of Congress and who was determined to actually harm America diplomatically, domestically, economically, and in every other way. Apart from building a domestic KGB-like intelligence apparatus and paramilitary force, how would such a president and his actions differ from Mr. Obama and his own?
Each of the few examples I’ve provided are, by themselves, cause for alarm in a people dedicated to liberty and prosperity. Taken together, they suggest that far more than poor policy, incompetence, stubbornness, or stupidity are at work.
It may be argued that Mr. Obama’s expressed and implied beliefs and actions merely reflect a profound lack of experience, perhaps even utter incompetence, and there is doubtless some significant element of this present in the Obama administration at virtually all levels. Witness the recent pronouncement of CIA Director Leon Panetta, who admitted that the information on Egypt he gave the same committee was not the fruits of professional CIA analysis, but of media accounts.
Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano is likewise a fount of late night TV talk show jokes, and Vice President Joe “The Sheriff” Biden is in a gaffetastic class by himself.
The problem, for Mr. Medved, and the nation, is that mere incompetence cannot adequately explain away Mr. Obama’s background, his expressed and implied beliefs, or his associations, appointments, and official actions. Believing that he actually wishes America harm is, in light of the voluminous and growing evidence, not unfounded but logical — not a reactionary, emotional conclusion but a reasonable one based on objective evidence, most of which has been provided by Mr. Obama himself.
If this was not so, wouldn’t at least some of his policies have the consequence of substantially and honestly benefiting America?
And reelection? Wouldn’t any normal politician acting as Mr. Obama has acted and continues to act be committing political suicide? Wouldn’t he know this and engage in Clintonian triangulation, at least giving the appearance of tracking to the center? Yes. But Mr. Obama is not a conventional politician.
All politicians, particularly presidents, have healthy egos, but Mr. Obama’s narcissism is the stuff of legend. Consider his pseudo- presidential Great Seal of Obama; his extra-constitutional and non-existent “Office of the President-Elect”; his Marxist, Cold War-inspired propaganda posters and symbols; his announcement, upon receiving his party’s nomination for president, that history would record it as the moment the seas began to recede and the planet began to heal; or his response to a Democrat worried about the outcome of the 2010 Congressional election that Democrats had nothing to worry about “because you have me.” One might be forgiven for believing that Mr. Obama’s narcissism gets in the way of a clear-eyed, realistic view of the world.
Bill Clinton did indeed tack toward the center to ensure his reelection. He was not a socialist and did not surround himself with socialist radicals. There is reason to believe that Mr. Obama would like to be reelected, but there is greater reason to believe that he, first and foremost, sees the world through Obama-colored glasses. Peering through those lenses, he sees a world not only hanging on his words, grateful to receive them and anxious to act upon them, but breathlessly waiting for him to bestow his transformative words. He sees a world where his rhetoric and the force of his personality and matchless intellect can and will cause transformative change. He sees a world where foreign policy is an annoying distraction from his true interest in, as he has often put it, “fundamentally changing America.”
Despite his protestations (common God- and gun-clinging folk would call them “lies”) to the contrary, Mr. Obama sees as one of his guiding principles the necessity and morality of redistributing wealth. He made this clear when Joe the Plumber dared ask him if he was going to raise his taxes and Obama replied that he believed that things were better if you spread the wealth around. And of course, no one is more qualified to know to whom it should be spread than Mr. Obama, who makes a virtual sacrament of class warfare — particularly against the evil and greedy rich, a class to which one need make a surprisingly small amount to belong. (I seem to remember something about class warfare being an integral part of Marxist theory.)
Mr. Medved is correct in suggesting that it would be unwise for the GOP to attack the presidency, but he makes the same mistake made by Mr. Obama in equating Mr. Obama with the presidency. This is a significant part of the reason why Mr. Obama fails so badly in foreign policy: he speaks not as the president of the United States, willing and able to use its might and prestige to further American interests, but as Barack Obama, who routinely disparages America’s might and prestige, seeks to further his interests, and diminishes not only his office but the nation it exists to serve. His ego keeps him from understanding this distinction, but it is surely appreciated by foreign leaders who fear and respect him not.
In the 2012 election, the GOP standard bearer should not make the same mistake made by Sen. John McCain. He must be willing and able to criticize every negative and foolish aspect of Mr. Obama’s ideas, policies, associations, appointments, and beliefs. He must be willing and able to point out exactly why Mr. Obama is not fit to occupy the Oval Office. He must make plain that the office of the President does not exist to empower its occupant to “fundamentally change” America, to ignore the Constitution, and to gain ultimate, intimate power over the lives of its citizens, but to faithfully uphold the Constitution and to ensure individual dignity and liberty. This is not attacking the presidency, but upholding its dignity and importance — a dignity and importance substantially diminished by Mr. Obama. John Adams would almost certainly think him neither honest nor wise.