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- U.S., China race to finish line on ‘invisibility cloak’
- Obama ‘cavalier’ in hiding foreign aid order, judge rules
- Prince Charles: Muslims are driving Christians from Mideast through persecution
- Gitmo’s first commander: Close the prison down
- Google’s newest photography find: Just wink and shoot
- Detroit’s Heidelberg art project hit by 8 fires in 8 months
- Pa. police pull people over for random DNA tests for feds
- NASA pushing hard to get back into space game
- Harvard student to face federal charges for bomb hoax
WILLIAMS: Obama’s first 100 days: Beliefs vs. convictions
Question of the Day
President Obama was elected with a multitude of beliefs on topics ranging from health care and climate control to Guantanamo Bay detainees and the war in Iraq. But he entered the White House 100 days ago with two radical convictions that guide his beliefs and for which he would subordinate political maneuvering or optics.
His first conviction is that politicians and bureaucrats can run the economy and redistribute income better than the invisible hand of the American laissez-faire capitalist system. His second conviction is that America’s foreign policy should be determined by an international leftist academic and media elite and not by the interests of the American people.
Beliefs have short shelf lives. Convictions are forever and justify risking political defeat in defense of principles that live for the ages.
Mr. Obama is no Rosa Parks willing to challenge the existing power structure. He is awed by the national security establishment that insists on permanent war on a battlefield that spans the globe. He is equally enamored of the big spending dogmas and Big Brother meddling in private economic matters of the left. Thus, a fat-larded $3.5 trillion budget and trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see.
Mr. Obama is no Martin Luther King, who did not flinch from political conflict when high principles were at stake. Remember Selma, Birmingham and Memphis. Instead, Mr. Obama has flinched on gun control. He has flinched on government transparency and torture. He has flinched on earmarks. He has flinched on Iraq.
To Mr. Obama, everything is subservient to filling the corridors of power with soothing symphonies rather than jarring fugues.
Mr. Obama is no Sir Thomas More, who accepted martyrdom by refusing to subordinate the law to political convenience. His shifting views on a faithful execution of the laws on war, torture, illegal surveillance and transparency are driven by political calculations, not an unflagging devotion to the rule of law. He appointed Eric H. Holder Jr. as attorney general, who had the temerity to rebuke the American people as “cowards” in discussing the race issue, although the appointment discredited Mr. Holder’s calumny.
Further, neither Mr. Obama nor Mr. Holder have themselves done anything courageous since assuming their respective offices. Mr. Holder has shouted that waterboarding is torture, but balked at persons implicated in waterboarding.
Mr. Obama is no leader of any sort. He is an echo chamber of uninformed or misinformed voters or special interests of the Democratic Party. He is an emperor with no clothes - a fact that his fawning admirers refuse to see.
Political honesty is the coin of a healthy democratic realm. An investor needs truthful corporate balance sheets not to feel cheated. A voter needs truthfulness in presidential candidates not to feel deceived and cheated of government by the consent of the governed. Mr. Obama has proven a political variation of Bernard Madoff.
He was for public financing of his general presidential campaign, until he was against it when he realized he had discovered a fundraising juggernaut. He was against an individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, until he was for it to expand his political base and to throw his arms around a decision of the United States Supreme Court. He was an opponent of the death penalty for rapists of children, until he was for it to appeal to social conservatives.
He was against the state-secrets doctrine to block litigation alleging government complicity in torture, illegal surveillance or arbitrary detentions, until he was for expanding the doctrine beyond the dimensions of those set by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. He was against spying on Americans without individualized warrants to gather foreign intelligence, until he was in favor of group warrants and retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies implicated in criminal and civil violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
He was against presidential power to detain citizens or residents indefinitely without accusation or trial in the war on international terrorism, until he was for it after entering the White House. He was against detentions of “enemy combatants” at Guantanamo Bay for nebulous associations with al Qaeda, until he was for it as long as the pejorative label was dropped.
He was against maintaining U.S. troops in Iraq after 2011, until he was for 50,000 (a greater number than are stationed in Japan or South Korea) if they could euphemistically be described as “non-combatant combatants.” He was against unchecked presidential power, until he was in favor of acting as the nation’s economic czar empowered to pick and choose winners and losers by decree.
He was against lobbyists serving in his Cabinet, until he was for it by granting a waiver for his deputy secretary of defense. He was in favor of Tom Daschle’s nomination as secretary of health and human services despite glaring income tax derelictions, until he was against it when the nomination fell into disfavor. He was in favor of whistleblower protection for intelligence agency employees, until he was against it.
He was against a president’s failure to fulfill his duty to faithfully execute, not circumvent the laws, until he was in favor of it after he occupied the White House and confronted evidence of torture authorized or practiced by Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, their subordinates and lawyers in the Department of Justice.
In sum, Mr. Obama is a serial prevaricator. In his mind, truth and candor are synonyms for political convenience and ambition.
Mr. Obama’s scorn for convictions that rise above politics also finds expression in other ways. A nation lives by symbols. Mr. Obama’s undignified deferential posturing before a Saudi Arabian official symbolized irresolution over whether the theocracy and religious intolerance that infuse Islam are inferior to the free exercise of religion celebrated in the American system.
Cordiality and civility can be displayed toward heads of state without behavior that communicates submission or approval of ideas or actions that contradict American values or practices. Mr. Obama’s eager and highly publicized handshakes with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez were wrong. They were done with the appearance of acknowledging that the tyrannical, pro-Iranian and Russian and anti-Semitic head of state represented an equally honorable and praiseworthy approach to governing.
Mr. Obama should have displayed a civil aloofness toward Mr. Chavez or discovered a face-saving excuse for an inability to exchange greetings. And what is to be made of Mr. Obama’s presentation at Georgetown University in which he insisted on covering up symbols of Christianity, like a reverse Counter-Reformation. Will he next remove “In God We Trust” from the currency or “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance and refuse to invoke the Deity on Thanksgiving? Is he bent on appeasing Islamic radicalism?
By attempting to be all things to all people, Mr. Obama will end by being nothing for everyone. Alternatively, he will destroy America as we know it, turning it into a welfare state, or even worse, socialist economy with an emasculated foreign policy.
• “The Armstrong Williams Show” is broadcast weeknights on XM Satellite’s Power 169 channel from 9 to 10 p.m.
About the Author
By John R. Bolton
The president fiddles at his domestic altar while the world burns
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