It’s often said that you can see what politicians really are about when they’re with cronies and supporters, because they don’t have to clean up their act as much. Sometimes they even forget that they’re still in public, and say very revealing things.
It’s also often said that power corrupts. That’s one of the hazards of becoming President of the United States—which after all is nothing if not a position of great power, especially for those Presidents who also have large majorities in Congress.
And then there are the perks of the office itself. The constant deference shown by underlings. The luxuries, the hundreds to do one’s bidding, the trips and the private airplane and the opportunity to pontificate at will. The knowledge that, even after leaving office, money will never be an object because of the ability to command big bucks as a speaker.
This is compounded by the fact that those who achieve the office of the US Presidency are hardly shrinking violets or humble souls to begin with, as a rule. And we all know—in fact it was a running joke during the campaign—that Obama is one of the most imperial and narcissistic candidates ever to run for the high office, what with his special seal and his reference to epiphanies and the eager and worshiping crowds chanting his name as though in a trance.
This tendency of Obama’s could only be expected to grow once in office, a position in which the president is isolated from the realities of the world and the public, and is surrounded mainly by sycophants and those dedicated to keeping on his good side and protecting their own jobs, often by telling him only what he wants to hear.
So I suppose it should come as no surprise to see the behavior Obama exhibits in the following tape of a speech he made to supporters of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds in MacLean, Virginia.
No surprise, indeed; but it should send a chill down the spine of every American, Left or Right, Democrat or Republican or Independent or Green or of any other party, who hears it:
Note the body language: the leading with the chin and the little smile at the end. This is a man in love with power who is angry at being defied, a man who has absolutely no interest in freedom of speech if it goes against him (no, that was too mild; he has an absolute antipathy to freedom of speech if it goes against him, and this has a long history with Obama—see this and this).
This is a man who says he takes responsibility while constantly blaming his predecessor, and does it in a way unbecoming a president—and in a way that no president before him has done, because of their respect for the office itself. This is a man who wraps himself in the mantle of the power of the presidency, saying “I am the President” at every turn (see this for my previous commentary on that ingrained habit of Obama’s). This is cockiness rather than accepting responsibility, something Obama has yet to do.
The verbal tendencies demonstrated in the above video are habits of Obama’s, and they are no accident. They represent his modus operandi: rhetorically pretending to take responsibility while at the same time shucking it (I’ve talked at some length about this ploy of his, here).
But what I see in this video that is new is the naked, unashamed need to silence the opposition, especially ironic in a man who posed in his campaign as the great listener, the great uniter, the great champion of dialogue. And I use that word “posed” advisedly: it was a pose, and now there’s no need for him to pretend any more.
Have we ever in recent history had a President who gives a message like this of the need to silence opposition rather than allow it and then answer it? If so, I certainly don’t recall it, and I’ve lived a long time through many administrations, ones I’ve liked and ones I haven’t. The closest I can come to this was Richard Nixon, but even he was never as global in his condemnation nor as naked and open and unashamed in his desire to silence the opposition.
Note that I wrote “in recent history” in the paragraph above. I did that for a reason. The closest parallel I can think of is the Alien and Sedition Acts passed under the administration of John Adams. Actually, not the “Alien” part of the acts, which only applied to aliens, but the “Sedition” part:
The Sedition Act (officially An Act for the Punishment of Certain Crimes against the United States; ch. 74, 1 Stat. 596) made it a crime to publish “false, scandalous, and malicious writing” against the government or its officials. It was enacted July 14, 1798, with an expiration date of March 3, 1801.
The opposition was fierce, and the act was so unpopular that it was largely responsible for the permanent downfall of the party sponsoring it, the Federalists. I hope that will be a lesson to Obama and the present-day Democratic Party, who are going down a terrible path that now includes demonizing the opposition, and asking people to report to the White House all “fishy” communications that “misrepresent” Obamacare.
It’s not for nothing that our Founding Fathers felt the overwhelming need to protect our freedom of speech, and to try their best to ensure the rights of the minority party and its supporters. President Obama seems ignorant of this little detail of history—either ignorant, or contemptuous.