During his campaign for the Presidency in 2008, then Senator Obama was asked by a member of the audience: “When Congress offers you a bill, do you promise not to use Presidential Signage to get your way?” His one word answer was “Yes.” His follow-up explanation however, drove the point home, that this was an unconstitutional and reprehensible act for any President. In his own words:
“We’ve got a government designed by the Founders so that there would be checks and balances. You don’t want a President that’s too powerful, or a Congress that’s too powerful, or Courts that are too powerful. Everybody’s got their own role. Congress’ job is to pass legislation. The President can veto it, or he can sign it. But, what George Bush has been trying to do as part of his effort to accumulate more power in the Presidency, he’s been saying ‘Well, I can basically change what Congress passed, by attaching a letter saying I don’t agree with this part, or I don’t agree with that part. I’m going to choose to interpret it this way, or that way.’ That’s not part of his power. But, this is part of the whole theory of George Bush – that he can make laws as he’s going along. I disagree with that. I taught the Constitution for ten years. I believe in the Constitution and I will obey the Constitution of the United States. We’re not going to use signing statements as a way of doing an end run around Congress. All right?”[i]
Very strong language indeed for a President who boasts an ability and intention to go around Congress, and who noted in signing into law the National Defense Authorization Act, that he disagreed with 14 sections of the bill, saying:
“…should any application of these provisions conflict with my constitutional authorities, I will treat the provisions as non-binding.”[ii]
In still another of the 19 signing statements issued by President Obama thru the end of 2011, Obama blocked the defunding of four of his “Czar” positions, stating that:
“Legislative efforts that significantly impede the President’s ability to exercise his supervisory and coordinating authorities or to obtain the views of the appropriate senior advisers violate the separation of powers by undermining the President’s ability to exercise his constitutional responsibilities and take care that the laws be faithfully executed. Therefore, the executive branch will construe section 2262 not to abrogate these Presidential prerogatives.”[iii]
Which of the campaign promises Obama makes in the run-up to the 2012 Presidential election will be as solid as his assurances against “Signing Statements”? Which other Constitutional principles will he defend with equal respect and passion?
[i] Senator Barack Obama, (2008), Doug Powers (Oct. 28, 2011), Michelle Malkin web-site, Charles Rangel: Obama Working Around Congress is Okay Because of the Gridlock, video in article posted by “brianamburgey”, Obama on Presidential Signing Statements, retrieved January 6, 2012, from http://michellemalkin.com/2011/10/28/charles-rangel-gridlock/
In a 2008 article that otherwise appeared very defensive of the Obama campaign, ABC News at least provided the following glimpse into Presidential Candidate Obama’s thought process:
“The Missouri Truth Squad, an Obama campaign press release stated last week, would ‘respond quickly, forcefully, and aggressively when John McCain or his allies launch inaccurate claims or character attacks about Barack Obama, or when they distort Barack Obama’s record or plans.’”[i]
Members of this “Truth Squad,” included members with “law enforcement powers, such as St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch, St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, and Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer,”[ii] giving a very different tone to the campaign’s promise to respond to so called inaccuracies, “…quickly, forcefully, and aggressively.”
When the NRA-Political Victory Fund called into question, “Sen. Obama’s statements and support for restricting access to firearms,” Obama reportedly “sent ‘cease and desist letters’ to news outlets in the two states, ‘denouncing the ads,” “demanding their removal from the airwaves,’” and “…warning station managers that in order to stay in the Federal Communication commission’s good graces, they should not air the ads.”[iii]
Missouri Governor Matt Blunt weighed in, saying:
“This abuse of the law for intimidation insults the most sacred principles and ideals of Jefferson. I can think of nothing more offensive to Jefferson’s thinking than using the power of the state to deprive Americans of their civil rights…”[iv]
[iii] World Net Daily staff, (Sept. 27, 2008) World Net Daily Web-Site, Backlash to Obama Officials Squelching Political Speech: Law Enforcement Threats, intimidation likened to ‘Police-State Tactics,’ by Missouri Governor, retrieved December 23, 2011, from http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=76438
[iv] World Net Daily staff, (Sept. 27, 2008) World Net Daily Web-Site, Backlash to Obama Officials Squelching Political Speech: Law Enforcement Threats, intimidation likened to ‘Police-State Tactics,’ by Missouri Governor, retrieved December 23, 2011, from http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=76438
If you’re old enough to remember the early days of Fidel Castro, then you remember when neighbors were urged to inform on neighbors – particularly, against those expressing contrary political opinions. But then, Castro wasn’t the first and he won’t be the last dictator to sponsor this type of nightmarish reality. Most Americans feel an icy chill, just thinking about a government that divisive – that controlling – that paranoid – that dangerous. Welcome to the Obama Administration.
In August, 2009, Linda Douglass, Communications Director for the White House’s Health Reform Office, appeared on national television, sitting at her computer screen, ostensibly tracking misinformation circulating about the new President’s Healthcare Reform plan. Turning towards the TV cameras, Douglass explained:
“There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation.Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to email@example.com.”[i](Emphasis Added)
Is this the type of request you anticipated from the office of the President of the United States? It’s an easily explainable request and a case can certainly be made for the paranoia of those who see it as sinister. Yet, it runs along the periphery of very ugly territory – informing on our neighbors’ exercise of free speech. The loss of liberty in minute doses is hardly felt until it is suddenly gone. Arguably, this type of request provides a clear indication of how quickly, how far, by what means and in what areas the American people can be pushed into compliance with new policies.