A recent issue of Newsweek featured a cover story by a distinguished Harvard historian, Niall Ferguson, titled “Hit the Road, Barack,” setting forth a substantial argument for the current president’s speedy retirement. I share Ferguson’s position, largely as a result of reading, during the past four years, 40 plus books by and about President Barack Obama (cf. the appended sources). Most of them, like prosecutors’ briefs, seek to critique the president for various reasons and are generally polemical in nature. It’s important to remember, however, that a prosecutor’s brief, despite its imbalance, may be eminently accurate and trustworthy. A passionate polemic, despite its extreme wording, may very well present accurate information and highlight wrongful behavior. For example, in 1964 J. Evetts Haley, a distinguished Texas Historian with considerable personal experience in state politics, published A Texan Looks at Lyndon: A Study in Illegitimate Power. Many urbane reviewers cavalierly dismissed its intensely negative portrait of President Johnson. Fifty years later, however, in light of Robert Caro’s exhaustive multi-volume biographical work (detailing Lyndon Johnson’s power-pursuits and machinations), much that Haley said seems accurate and spot-on. Had voters in 1964 believed Haley and repudiated LBJ the nation would have been spared much agony, most particularly the trauma resulting from his Vietnam War strategies and the trillions of wasted dollars concurrently poured into his Great Society boondoggles.
So I take many of Barack Obama’s critics seriously, particularly when there appears to be a clear consensus among them regarding the evidence regarding his background and philosophy, his maneuvers and accomplishments. In this essay I will note several areas wherein I join Obama’s critics in finding him unworthy of re-election.
1. AN ILL-PREPARED AND INCOMPETENT CHIEF EXECUTIVE
Doubts regarding Obama’s lack of executive experience have been amply affirmed during the past four years. Not only had he never run a business—he hadn’t even chaired an academic department or legislative committee before entering the White House! His role as a community organizer was limited to orchestrating protests without establishing effective structures or lasting solutions. He is, as former President Bill Clinton allegedly declared, an inept “amateur”—the title of a book by Edward Klein, the one-time foreign affairs editor of Newsweek and former editor-in-chief of the New York Times Magazine. Hillary Clinton too has apparently found Obama frustrating to work with, according to some sources, and is “fed up with ‘a president who can’t make up his mind.’” After hundreds of interviews and wide-ranging research, Klein concluded Obama is “at bottom temperamentally unsuited to be the chief executive and commander in chief of the United States.” Similar illustrations revealing a president frequently “indecisive and dilatory” appear in Richard Miniter’s persuasive case in Leading from Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors Who Decide for Him.
In Debacle: Obama’s War on Jobs and Grown and What We Can Do Now to Regain Our Future, Grover G. Norquist (president of American for Tax Reform) and John R. Lott, Jr. (a distinguished economist who has taught at some of the nation’s elite universities), massively and minutely document the president’s failure to deal with what’s often called the Great Recession. Shortly before Obama’s inauguration, Democrat Senator Byron Dorgan, evaluating the new economic team, warned: “You’ve picked the wrong people!” Thus Obama made promises impossible to deliver regarding job creation and economic recovery, rammed through a stimulus bill that subsidized his allies while ultimately harming the nation, and plunged us into almost unfathomable debt. Rather than helping America recover from the recession, Barack Obama (duplicating FDR’s failures in the 1930s) has aggravated and prolonged it.
Truth to tell, “the man we have elected president of the United States doesn’t know what he’s doing,” says David Gelernter, a Yale computer professor and Orthodox Jew who portrays Obama as the personification of the educational failures amply evident in the ignorance now plaguing the schools shaped by the ‘60s generation. Writing in America-Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled Our Culture (and Ushered in the Obamacrats), Gelertner insists the president speaks for the mindless “adversary culture” incubated in the elite universities (Occidental; Columbia; Harvard) he attended, absorbing the views of PORGIs (post-religious, global intellectuals). Obama is, consequently, “merely a mouth for garden-variety left-liberal ideas—a mouth of distinction, a mouth in a million, but a mere mouth just the same. He is important not as a statesman but as a symptom, a dreadful warning. He is important not because he is exceptional but because he is typical. He is the new establishment; he represents the post-cultural revolutionary PORGI elite.” By temperament and training an able agitator, the president lacks those statesmanlike skills needed to lead this nation.
2. AN IDEOLOGICAL LEFTIST
Mounting evidence points to Barack Obama’s leftist convictions and agendas. In his formative years virtually every influential person in his life promoted such notions. As Dinesh D’Souza shows, he deeply admires his Kenyan father, Barack Sr., who was an anti-colonial socialist. His mother, something of a poster girl for the atheistic anti-American countercultural ethos of the ‘60s, embraced various left-wing, anti-American, utopian causes throughout her life. His primary philosophical mentor in Hawaii, Frank Marshall Davis (as Paul Kengor recently demonstrated in The Communist) was an avid Stalinist. The books he read and the professors he admired at Occidental and Columbia were frequently Marxists. The radical circles (e.g. unrepentant Weathermen terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn) within which he moved in Chicago were markedly shaped by Saul Alinski, the noted socialist organizer who wrote Rules for Radicals. Jeremiah Wright, the pastor he frequently lauded, was a fiery advocate of a Marxist-rooted liberation theology. His chief political guru, David Axelrod, was mentored by Harry and David Canter; the elder, Harry, spent time in the ‘30s in Moscow, translating Lenin’s works. Thus Axelrod has deep roots in radical Chicago circles, consistently espouses leftist ideals and exemplifies their strategies.
Though muted and disguised with rhetorical skill, Obama’s leftist agenda became evident during his first administration as he sought to centralize power and expand the welfare state, today’s vehicle for attaining traditionally socialist objectives. Through legislation (Obamacare; Dodd-Frank) and regulation (EPA edicts; NLRB policies) he has dramatically departed from the clear federalism of the Constitution. Vowing, upon his inauguration, to “fundamentally transform” this nation, the president has consistently worked to establish a European-style social democracy and “spread the wealth around.” Consummating a century of progressivism, running through Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson, Barack Obama presides over what Mark R. Levin describes (in Ameritopia) as “a post-constitutional, democratic utopia of sorts. It exists behind a Potemken-like image of constitutional republicanism.” Manifestly, warns Daniel Hannon, a British member of the European Parliament, the United States “is Europeanizing its health system, its tax take, its day care, its welfare rules, its approach to global warming, its foreign policy, its federal structure, its unemployment rate.”
Obama’s ideology informs his commitment to an environmentalism clarified in important administrative appointments. Obama’s secretary of transportation, Ray LaHood, wants to “coerce people out of their cars” into trains and bicycles; so billions of dollars from the “stimulus package” went to light rail projects, despite their well-documented economic infeasibility. His secretary of energy, Steven Chu, hoped higher gas prices would make Americans more like Europeans; facing $8 a gallon at the pump they would be forced to buy better cars and use public transportation. His Science and Technology advisor, John Holdren, a one-time close associate of Paul Ehrlich, seeks to implement the vision etched in extremist ‘60s manifestoes such as The Population Bomb. His special advisor for green jobs, Van Jones, forced to resign after it was revealed he identified his communist commitments, openly acknowledges using environmentalism as a popular vehicle to establish racial and social justice, in his words “spreading the wealth” and “changing the whole system.”
His “mania for green energy,” says David Limbaugh in The Great Destroyer, “exceeds all bounds of reason or prudence. He has dedicated tens of billions of dollars to a wide assortment of fantastic green projects, often falsely advertising them as being geared toward creating jobs and sparking economic growth.” Philosophically opposed to using or developing the enormous resources of fossil fuels in the United States and Canada, he manipulated the BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 to impose a moratorium on exploratory drilling off all the nation’s coasts. When a federal judge blocked him, he defied the judge and issued an analogous order restricting leases (speaking through his spokesman Ken Salazar, who as a senator from Colorado had said he would oppose all offshore drilling, even if gas prices soared to $10 a gallon). He effectively cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas, alleging environmental concerns when in fact hundreds of similar pipelines safely and efficiently transport oil throughout the nation.
Enamored with the illusion that “green energy” will create jobs and make America self-sufficient, Obama authorized dozens of “investments” from the Recovery Act in companies such as the now bankrupt Solyndra (repeatedly celebrated by the president as a perfect example of his aspirations). Amply illustrating the “crony capitalism” endemic to this regime, Solyndra demonstrated the president’s version of environmentalism. In Throw Them All Out, Peter Schweizer notes that 80 percent of the renewable energy companies subsidized by the Department of Energy are either owned or run by Obama donors! “This is,” Schweizer asserts, precisely the same as “Boss Tweed’s financial payoffs writ large,” since the folks who worked for and donated millions of dollars to Obama’s election campaign soon “received billions in government-backed loans and outright grants.” One of Obama’s staunchest financial supporters, Pat Stryker, a Colorado billionaire, rejoiced to see one of her companies, Abound Solar, awarded $400 million in federal grants as well as $4.7 billion in loan guarantees. Right in the middle of disbursing these quid pro quod deals one finds lobbyists such as Deana Perlmutter, then-wife of the fabulously-wealthy Colorado Democrat Congressman Ed Perlmutter.
Compounding this corrupt cronyism, hundreds of “green” projects have abjectly failed. Proving the folly of most of Obama’s “green energy” investments, the DeSoto Solar Center in Florida, touted by the president as the “largest solar power plant in the United States” and given $150,000 of stimulus money, hired 400 construction workers to build the facility and ended up employing a grand total of two permanent workers. Further illustrating this pattern, the city of Seattle received $20 million by promising to weatherize homes in needy neighborhoods, creating 2,000 jobs and retrofitting 2,000 homes; ultimately a splendid total of 14 (mainly administrative) jobs and three better-insulated homes bore witness to the efficacy of federal largesse!
3. INDIFFERENT TO OUR INALIENABLE NATURAL RIGHTS
Working out his progressive philosophy, Barack Obama holds the rights enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights are granted by government rather than God. He adamantly supports abortion-rights, unconcerned about our most basic human right, life. While running for president, he made every effort to obfuscate the issue, but facts prove him to be the most pro-abortion chief executive in the nation’s history. He supports partial birth abortion and promised (when speaking to Planned Parenthood’s Action Fund in 2007): “The first thing I’d do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act,” thereby annulling all efforts to regulate or reduce the number of abortions in the nation. He wants tax monies to subsidize abortions—thus increasing the millions of dollars Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers rake in from public coffers and then lavishly support him and his “party of death.” He is, furthermore, one of the few Democrats to oppose saving the lives of babies who survive abortions. When an effort was made in Illinois to enact legislation, identical to the federal “Born Alive Infants Protection Act,” Obama spoke and voted against it.
Still more: he has strongly, if often subtly, moved to infringe upon and deny the “free exercise” of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment. Early on his spokesmen crafted a linguistic shift from “freedom of religion” to “freedom to worship.” What you do within your own mind, or within the walls of an approved facility, will be tolerated. But there is no guaranteed freedom to actually live out your religious beliefs regarding such things as abortion or same-sex marriage. Inevitably, as his Department of Health and Human Services bureaucrats began implementing Obamacare, they required religious organizations to provide “contraceptive care,” abortifacient drugs and sterilization.
Shirking his constitutional duty to enforce federal laws, Obama simply announced (through his justice department) he would not defend the Defense of Marriage Act. Indeed, Attorney-General Eric Holder and his subordinates in the justice department were soon in court arguing against it! Awakened by this, New York Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan warned the president that his “campaign against DOMA, the institution of marriage it protects, and religious freedom,” would “precipitate a national conflict between church and state of enormous proportions.” But when the political winds favored it, the president re-embraced his deeply-held determination, announced in the 1996, to support same-sex marriage and evident in his early decision to annul the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the nation’s armed forces. Responding to such visible political currents, numerous organizations have endorsed homosexual rights and activities, and gay-rights activists have effectively worked through the media to brand as bigots individuals and institutions who support traditional marriage.
Obama’s disdain for the Second Amendment and our right to self-defense, verbally expressed at various times in his career, has been carefully documented by the NRA and scholars such as John Lott who are concerned with a free people’s right to self-defense. Lott, the distinguished legal scholar who wrote More Guns, Less Crime, taught with Barack Obama at the University of Chicago Law School in the 1990s. When they met, Obama said to Lott: “Oh, you’re the gun guy.” When Lott affirmed the statement, Obama said: “I don’t believe that people should be able to own guns.” When Lott suggested they might meet and discuss the issue, Obama simply “grimaced and turned away, ending the conversation.” It is thus evident that he revealed his convictions when addressing a group of supporters in San Francisco in 2008, disdaining backward folks in “small towns” who “get bitter” and “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them . . . as a way to explain their frustrations.”
If Katie Pavlich’s well-documented and disturbing Fast and Furious: Barack Obama’s Bloodiest Scandal and Its Shameless Cover-Up and Richard Miniter’s Leading From Behind are substantially true, the president and his attorney-general are possibly responsible for a scheme to advance their anti-gun agenda by funneling guns to Mexican drug cartels under the direction of the ATF. “Emails released under congressional subpoena” Pavlich says, “suggest that Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and their senior lieutenants were involved in devising and approving the program in 2009.” Some critics even believe “that Operation Fast and Furious was built to fail, from a straight law enforcement point of view, and built to succeed in promoting gun control. Certainly that has been its net effect, helping to justify the administration’s new regulations on long guns.” Things backfired badly, however, when hundreds of innocents, including border agent Brian Terry were killed the rifles. The newly-empowered Republicans in Congress launched an investigation into the operation, but it has been stifled by the president’s placing the whole endeavor under the protection of his “executive privilege.”
4. A CHICAGO-STYLE POLITIAN
In The Case Against Barack Obama David Fredosso evaluated Obama’s claim to be a “new” kind of politician, a reformer intent on constructive change. His speeches certainly move the multitudes, but his activities replay an old Chicago script. He never supported reform or supported change in Chicago. He has always worked, hand-in-glove, with the entrenched political machine there, supporting the notoriously corrupt Strogers (father and son) who helped run Cook County’s political machine. The inner circle of Obama’s campaign staff are veteran Chicago operatives and Mayor Daley’s hand deftly massaged the Obama presidential campaign via his veteran publicist, David Axelrod.
Much the same must be said of Obama’s years in Springfield as a state senator where he linked up with Emil Jones, the senate president who quickly envisioned for Obama a route to the U.S. Senate. Jones incarnates the patronage system that distinguishes Chicago politics—using tax money to distribute grants and subsidize all sorts of programs (and relatives) to perpetuate one’s career. When he entered the U.S. Senate Obama repaid his benefactor by earmarking millions of dollars for some of Jones’ pet projects—as well an important one of his own by designating $1 million for the University of Chicago Medical Center where his wife Michelle was a vice president; her $200,000 salary conveniently doubled just as her husband entered the U.S. Senate! Soon thereafter she changed the center’s bidding process so as to give the Blackwell Consulting firm a package deal worth $600,000, a nice remuneration for a long-time political ally and friend, Robert Blackwell.
Barack Obama was barely into the first year of his presidency when Michelle Malkin published Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies. Researching the records of various associates and appointees Malkin found “a dysfunctional and dangerous conglomerate of business-as-usual cronies” including Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett, Joe Biden, Larry Summers, Tim Geithner, and Eric Holder. Vice President Biden, while hardly as wealthy as many senators, has placed his children in cushy positions as lobbyists and hedge funds operatives and early profited from the services of the now-imprisoned ponzi-fund Texas financier R. Allen Stanford. While publically decrying lobbyists, Biden earmarked more than $3.4 million for clients his son represented. One of Obama’s confidantes, Jim Johnson, named to his pre-inaugural transition team, headed Fannie Mae from 1991 to 1998, despite having “accepted more than $7 million in below-market-rate loans from Countrywide,” and his successor, Franklin Raines, quickly netted a sweet $1 million loan from Countrywide before retiring with a golden parachute worth $240 before both Fannie and Countrywide collapsed, helping trigger the Great Recession.
David Fredosso, in Gangster Government: Barack Obama and the New Washington Thugocracy, takes his title from an article by Michael Barone, one of the nation’s most respected political analysts; it is an apt summation of the president’s penchant for rewarding his political allies with financial windfalls. And it is, it seems, the reliably tested-and-tried Chicago way that’s become the Obama-way.
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