As he accepted his Party’s nomination for President in 2008, then Senator Obama laid out his case for change. Among the fundamental promises made by the nominee was the promise of political discourse without the type of gutter sniping that has come to characterize Washington, DC. Obama – in a manner that had to be pleasing to both Republicans and Democrats at the time – pledged:
“But what I will not do is suggest that the Senator [McCain] takes his positions for political purposes. Because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other’s character and patriotism.”[i]
Events moved fast after that speech and it seemed like there had been hardly time to draw a breath before President Obama was vilifying and marginalizing Tea Party participants as “Tea Baggers,”[ii]waving imaginary tea bags in the air as he talked about them; calling on Hispanic voters to “punish our enemies;”[iii] and “referring specifically to Republicans such as Senator John McCain, who are stressing border security and supporting strict immigration laws…as not being ‘…the kinds of folks who represent our core American values.’”[iv]Ridiculing the Arizona legislature’s attempt to pass a strict immigration law, Obama told attendees at the 2010 White House Correspondents’ Dinner:
“Unfortunately, (Senator) John McCain (R-AZ) couldn’t make it. Recently, he claimed that he had never identified himself as a Maverick – and we all know what happens in Arizona when you don’t have I.D. – Adios Amigos!”[v]
As Obama was personally making these comments, he was also leading a Party, whose members were making such comments as “the ‘tea party’ can go straight to hell,”[vi] that members of Congress with the Tea Party movement, would like to see blacks treated as “second class citizens” and “…hanging on a tree,”[vii]or that “…the Republicans want you to die quickly if you get sick.”[viii]
How can we not admire the new level of civil discourse promoted by Barack Obama?
In a 2007 campaign speech in Virginia, then Senator Obama provided a glimpse of what he would show again and again in the coming years. The tragedies, hopes and dreams of others are often merely lines on a teleprompter to “No drama Obama.” So it was in this speech, where he boldly asserts:
“This week there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died – an entire town destroyed. I talked to somebody in the Governor’s office – Governor Sebelius, who I was going to be travelling with in New Orleans, had to fly back – found out that the National Guard in Kansas only had 40% of its equipment and they are having to slow down the recovery process in Kansas…”[i]
Obama used the opportunity to question how President Bush could have involved the U.S. in a trillion dollar war.
Recognizing that the actual death toll from the Kansas Tornado was 12 – not 10,000 – not an entire town – Obama told the audience he was tired.[ii] He may have been. Nonetheless, this error, his error as to the number of states, his error as to Medicine Joe Crow being a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, his error as to Sgt. Monti having been a living recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor – all of these errors scream of belonging to a man with little attachment to America, to the acts of American heroism, service and excellence – or to the tragedies impacting the lives of our fellow citizens every day.
But hey…he looks good, has a good speaking voice and reads a teleprompter with reasonable accuracy.
Anyone can make an honest mistake. There are mistakes of the head and mistakes of the heart. We may forget dry facts in a textbook, or statistics we hear on the news. We normally do not forget about America’s brave warriors serving in the Armed Forces – and we particularly do not forget about our fallen heroes…because we care. The following then, is not important just as a gaffe. It is important because it shows how detached Obama is from the families across America whose loved ones have made the ultimate sacrifice for our Country, our freedoms and the freedom of people around the world. It shows the difference between a President who is engaged and caring and a President who merely reads – without emotion – from a teleprompter.
On Memorial Day, 2008, Presidential Candidate Obama, speaking in Las Cruces, New Mexico, said:
“On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes – and I see many of them in the audience here today…”[i]
These words were brought forth by the inspiring and eloquent political candidate, who announced to all Americans that “Words Matter.”
Asked by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), during a Nov. 8, 2011 hearing on “gun walking” Operation “Fast and Furious,” whether or not he had ever apologized to the family of murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, Attorney General Eric Holder replied that he had not apologized to them. Asked if he had even spoken with them, he responded:
This was a hearing occurring 11 months after the murder of Agent Terry by drug traffickers using assault rifles allowed – in a botched operation by Holder’s Dept. of Justice – to cross the border into Mexico.
Finally, after avoiding an apology to the family of the slain agent during the his Nov. 8th Congressional testimony, Attorney General Holder went on to claim that:
“It is not fair, however, to assume that the mistakes that happened in Fast and Furious directly led to the death of agent Terry.”[ii]
The following day – Nov. 9th, 2011 – Holder reportedly sent a letter of apology – via email – to Brian Terry’s sister, leaving it to her to share the letter with the remainder of Brian’s family. The letter was also allegedly released to Politico.com.[iii]
On February 3, 2012, Agent Terry’s mother responded through a Facebook entry, saying:
“Mr. Holder. How come you can never say my son’s name. You never have. All I ever hear you say is ‘I didn’t find out or I can’t say’ I’m actually tired of hearing your double talk in answering questions. What a joke you are. You know my son was a real AMERICAN, a WARRIOR, and a HERO, who was also protecting COWARD POLITICIANS like you. Hope you remember that.”[iv]
During late December, 2010, while vacationing in Hawaii, President Obama made a phone call to Philadelphia Eagles Owner Jeffrey Lurie, passionately praising him for giving quarterback Michael Vick, a convicted felon, a second chance.[i] Vick was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison in 2007, for participation in a dog fighting ring and for killing poor performing dogs by “electrocution, hanging, drowning and other violent means.”[ii]
Meantime, the family of Sgt. Sean Collins, a young soldier killed in Afghanistan on December 12, 2010, received a letter of condolence from their Senator, Maria Cantwell (D-WA), in which she expressed sorrow for the death of “Bryn” – not Sean. Mr. Collins requested a phone call from President Obama to Sean’s mother, but after several days, he was reportedly informed that the President could not fit the call into his schedule.[iii]
It was nearly two months before the President met with the families of the 11 oil rig workers killed in the Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20, 2010. Worse, he did not attend a May 25, 2010 memorial service for the dead. When asked why, his Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, reportedly said “I’d have to look at the schedule. I don’t know the answer.” [i]
Coincidentally perhaps, the President did find time in his schedule that day, to appear at a California fund raiser for Congresswoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA).[ii]
On June 23, 2011, speaking to members of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York, President Obama – Commander-in-Chief of the nation’s armed forces – reminded the soldiers that:
“…First time I saw 10th Mountain Division, you guys were in southern Iraq. When I went back to visit Afghanistan, you guys were the first ones there. I had the great honor of seeing some of you because a comrade of yours, Jared Monti, was the first person who I was able to award the Medal of Honor to, who actually came back and wasn’t receiving it posthumously.”[i]
This could have been a fine moment for a President remembering an American hero….except for one flaw in his speech. President Obama presented Staff Sergeant Jared Monti’s Medal of Honor, posthumously, to his parents at a White House ceremony conducted on September 17, 2009.[ii] Sgt. Monti was killed in action on June 21, 2006.[iii]
These should be moments indelibly etched on the mind of a caring person – let alone a caring President…unless, of course, they don’t care.