A recent New York Times article, which was written by Mark Landler and Helene Cooper, said something about President Obama that was eerily similar to words that were spoken by President Nioxn four decades or so ago. The article was titled, “Obama Seeks A Course of Pragmatism In the Middle East.” It discussed the difficult time and criticism the President has been under as a result of his administration’s reactions and actions to the upheaval in the Middle East. The article concludes with the following words: “Mr. Obama has told people that it would be so much easier to be the president of China. As an official put it: “No one is scrutinizing Hu Jintao’s (Chinese Premier) words in Tahrir Square.
Seems the President might be getting a little irritated that others in this country and abroad somehow have a difference of opinion with his policies. Almost to the point that how dare anyone criticize his decisions. Compare this view of self pity with a famous Nixon quote: “Politics would be a helluva a good business if it weren’t for the $#!*% people.” Kind of sounds like the same problem: I am the President of the United States. I should be able to do what I want since I am that much smarter than the rest of you, you people are little more than irritants that make my life less enjoyable.
It is a shame that both Presidents think or thought this way. It is called a democracy, we are allowed to question our leaders’ decisions even if it irritates them.
However, this channeling of Nixon does not end here if you do a little more research. Recently, President Obama has shown a very distressing tendency to ignore judicial protocol and decisions that he does not agree with. When a Federal judge deemed his Gulf oil drilling moratorium to be illegal, the administration merely revoked the original moratorium and replaced it with a virtually identical second moratorium, a charade that the judge promptly struck down with words admonishing the administration for its obvious disregard for his first ruling.
More recently, the President deemed that the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional, a responsibility of the Supreme Court, not Barack Obama. This law, no matter how one views it, has been on the books for about fifteen years and has not been severely tested or found wanting in any court. The President basically said he did not like it or find it Constitution and unilaterally decided not to enforce it.
Sounds an awful like a Nixon position and statement from long ago: “Under the doctrine of separation of powers, the manner in which the President personally exercises his assigned executive powers is not subject to questioning by another branch of government.” Thus, I guess President Obama was just exercising this Nixon tenet: regardless of what Congress has passed or the courts have decided, the President is not subject to questioning by these other two branches of government, even though the Constitution is structured to allow such questioning and separation of powers.
Now we are just getting warmed up. Consider some words from President Obama regarding the need to respect each other and to get along even though we may have differences of opinion: “So we face big and difficult challenges. And what the American people hope – what they deserve – is for all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to work through our differences, to overcome the numbing weight of our politics.”
Sounds good until you view it in the light of a Nixonism: “Let us move from an era of confrontation to the era of negotiation.” In both instances, the words do not match the actions. Nixon had his famous “enemies list” of people who dared to confront him and his actions. President Obama has allowed his Democratic Party partners to lash out at anyone who dared to honestly and rightfully criticize or confront an Obama initiative with such disparaging words as un-American, racists, Neanderthal, and members of the Klan. Sounds all too familiar.
To quote many a TV ad, there’s more! On March 8, 2011, the Washington Post reported that President Obama recently signed an executive order to “create a formal system of indefinite detention for those held at Guantanamo, Cuba who continue to pose a significant threat to national security.” Thus, with the stroke of a pen, the President has decided to deny a basic right of freedom to other human beings, the right to a fair and open trial so that the defendants can properly defend themselves and a just verdict reached after all of the facts and evidence have been put forth. Now, one man, the President, has decided to void that right, a right that is fundamental to the American justice system.
How can he dare do this? Maybe he is still channeling Nixon who once said: “When the President does it, that means that it’s not illegal.” Phew, I thought we were voiding something important here, the right to a fair trial. Lucky thing that Nixon blazed that trail, placing more value on a President’s sole judgment that centuries of proven and successful judicial processes.
One more seance example. Recently, Congressman Darrell Issa of California asked the administration for a ton of information, in various forms, as it applies to the backroom negotiations that went on during the formulation of Obama Care between the administration and the major drug companies and other health care field companies. Issa wants to be sure that no illegal or other hanky panky deals were made to get support for the passage of Obama Care as part of the Congressional committee he chairs.
One would have thought that this opportunity was consistent with the President’s pledge of a transparent government, a major campaign selling point of his. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The President responded by saying most, if not all, of the Issa request would not be granted since it would harm the separation of powers and that it might weaken the executive branch of the government.
At this point in time no one knows if the President’s claim is true and Issa is just on a vindictive witch hunt or the President does have something to hide and Issa is on a campaign for truth. The point is that Nixon has already been down this path when he stated: “If I were to make public these tapes, containing blunt and candid remarks on many different subjects, the confidentiality of the office of the President would always be suspect.” If memory serves me right, these tapes were eventually ordered released by the Supreme Court so it should be interesting to see where the Issa/Obama dance ends up, given the Nixon precedent.
It does not say much if the President is actually looking to Richard Nixon for guidance in governance. The Nixon administration was infamous for its insecurity, its secrecy, its vindictiveness, and eventually, its ineffectiveness. By channeling the Nixon way of thinking and governing, the President sets himself up for failure.
Until that point of failure, major issues do not get addressed and resolved and the cornerstones of our democracy, the Constitution, the separation of powers, and the respect for the responsibility of each government branch will deteriorate, dragging down our personal freedom and liberties in the process. Seems that we have not evolved our democracy very much if Nixon’s words ring true today within the executive branch.