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.”
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.
On Thursday, February 16, 2012, 34 members of Congress sent a letter to the White House, cautioning against further cuts in America’s nuclear arsenal – this, in response to an apparent plan by President Obama, for unilaterally reducing America’s nuclear strength by as much as 80%.[i] In the unlikely event that a cut of that size is called for, the U.S. would be reduced to approximately 300 nuclear warheads: leaving an “arsenal about the size of France’s Force de Frappe.[ii] The Congressional letter states, in part:
“At a time when every other nuclear weapons state has an active nuclear weapons modernization program and many are growing their stockpiles and capabilities, it is inconceivable to us that you would lead the United States down such a dangerous plan as has been reported…. [W]e seek to understand the basis on which you would instruct the National Security Staff to pursue these radical reductions in U.S. nuclear forces.”[iii]
The Congressman go on to cite the assessment of retired General Kevin Chilton, who testified in 2010 that “…the arsenal that we have is exactly what is needed today to provide the deterrent.”[iv]
According to the Washington Free Beacon, “Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney said even considering such deep strategic cuts is irrational.” General McInerney reportedly went on to say:
“No sane military leader would condone 300 to 400 warheads for an effective nuclear deterrent strategy.
“Going down to 1000 to 1,100 is risky enough and frankly in today’s world, very risky. The purpose of our nuclear force structure is to deter any adversary from even thinking that they could minimize our attack options. Such thinking is very dangerous and will only encourage our adversaries to make bold decisions.”[v]
The letter from members of Congress also reminded President Obama that:
“We are doubly concerned that you have abandoned your pledge to support the U.S. nuclear weapons modernization program by your latest budget submission.”[vi]
What does this mean as a practical matter? America is reportedly the only holder of nuclear weapons not modernizing its systems. Following the 2008 Presidential elections, General Kevin Chilton illustrated to the Wall Street Journal
“…a prop to illustrate his point: a glass bulb about two inches high. ‘This is a component of a V-61’ nuclear warhead,’ he says. It was in ‘one of our gravity weapons’ — a weapon from the 1950s and ’60s that is still in the U.S. arsenal. He pauses to look around the Journal’s conference table. ‘I remember what these things were for. I bet you don’t. It’s a vacuum tube. My father used to take these out of the television set in the 1950s and ’60s down to the local supermarket to test them and replace them.’
“And here comes the punch line: ‘This is the technology that we have . . . today.’ The technology in the weapons the U.S. relies on for its nuclear deterrent dates back to before many of the people in the room were born.”[vii]
And as a study continues to determine if America will unilaterally strip itself of up to 80% of our nuclear deterrent, a Georgetown University study reports that China – which “…has never agreed to be part of any strategic nuclear framework,” and has never been part of any related negotiations, may in fact, have the largest nuclear arsenal on the planet.[viii]
Former Astronaut Gene Cernan – the last American to walk on the Moon – noted in an interview with FoxNews’ Megyn Kelly, that China’s interest in maintaining a “consistent space program as they look to the future, really surprises no one.
“What is a surprise and what hurts…is we’ve just abdicated our future leadership in space, and I think that’s significantly important – both from a civilian point of view, military point of view and certainly, it’s going to have a tremendous economic impact and make us vulnerable in the future…I think this has got long, long term implications…the country that controls outer space in one way or another – the country that controls the high ground…if they destroy the capability to destroy satellites…to interrupt communications. Look what it would do to our banking system. Look at our navigation system. They’re going to put up a whole…GPS system of satellites, which is going to challenge those that we’ve already got up there.
“…we won’t be able to put an American on an American piece of hardware until the end of the decade. That’s unacceptable…we just backed down and quit quite frankly…The whole nation hasn’t yet fully grasped the situation that we’re being put in by the present Administration…We’re cheating future generations…”[i]
Obama Claims Personal Credit for Military’s Strategic Review
On January 5, 2011, President Obama conducted a Press Conference at the Pentagon, to announce the results of a Defense Strategic Review. He claimed that the results would guide a budget reduction to be announced in the “coming weeks.” Before he departed and turned the conference over to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Army General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), he seemed desperate to ensure he received a large share of the credit.
“So I’m going to let Leon [Panetta – Secretary of Defense] and Marty [General Dempsey] go into the details. But I just want to say that this effort reflects the guidance that I personally gave throughout this process.”[i]
That should certainly reassure every American – particularly those with family members serving in the military. What level of arrogance allows a man who never served in the military, who railed against the Iraq war, who voted against the surge in Iraq and whose total life experience consists of campus life, drug use, community organizing, agitating and political campaigning, to sit in the company of America’s finest flag officers – all of whom are combat veterans – and suggest that their successful development of a Defense Strategic Review is a reflection of “the guidance that I personally gave throughout the process”?