February 6, 2011
Clarice's Pieces: The Incredible Lightness of ObamaBy Clarice Feldman
This week saw a showdown between the man whose most significant achievement before 2008 was that he very nearly got the asbestos removed from the Altgeld Gardens tenements in Chicago and the third-longest-ruling head of Egypt since the Pharaoh Ramses, whose reign lasted 67 years. The Egyptian, an 82-year-old with terminal cancer, easily bested the community organizer, the man elected by people who quite clearly confused the last presidential election with an American idol contest. While many who elected the American president probably do not yet realize it, it is lucky for them that he lost the showdown, for had he not, the results would have created worldwide havoc and devastation.
The week marked the continuation of a popular and judicial revolt against the overweening and extralegal domestic power-grab by the Obama administration and ended with the president once again backing the wrong horse and trumpeting to the world how much more he favors our enemies than our allies. Like Honduras before him, Hosni Mubarak outsmarted and outplayed the community organizer.
Meanwhile, the White House signaled that it intended to ignore the clear language of Judge Vinson's opinion and proceed with implementing ObamaCare. As of Friday afternoon, the government had not filed a motion to stay Judge Vinson's order nor an appeal of his order, and at least two states have telegraphed that they think that ObamaCare is dead in its tracks. Both Wisconsin's and Florida's attorneys general have instructed state agencies to cease work to implement it.
In the Senate, Mitch McConnell, who has promised to tack a repeal amendment on every piece of legislation, began implementing his promise and attached such an amendment to the first bill of the session, one to authorize funding of the FAA. Every Republican voted for the amendment; every Democrat voted against it. As anger against this act and the administration continues to soar, it will be interesting to see how many vulnerable senators will continue to stake their future careers on a monumentally unpopular act that cost so many of their congressional colleagues their seats last November.
The Senate did vote to repeal the preposterous 1099 reporting rule, which would have required businesses to file 1099 forms for all purchases of goods or services over $600, a provision that would have buried the Capitol in a sea of meaningless paperwork and encouraged the creation of an Italian-style off-the-books economy.
The administration is clearly hoping to delay any appeal to the Supreme Court on the law so that implementation will be so far underway that it can argue that undoing the legislation would have a disastrous impact on the economy and national health care.
Virginia's attorney general had another idea. He's asking the Supreme Court to take the case without waiting for the Appellate Court to hear and decide it. One assumes that if the Court agrees to do this, all the related cases will be heard at the same time.
But congressional and judicial efforts are not all there is on tap to stop this law from going into effect and changing forever American's relationship to the federal government.
In Idaho, one legislator is proposing a nullification bill, and other states are voting to opt out of the act.
For every (outrageously overreaching) action, there's an equal and opposite reaction. In Obama's mind, cramming this act through Congress might have been his crowning achievement. In mine, it will be the epitaph of his administration, if not his party as well.
But the presumptive contempt of Judge Vinson's order is not the only sign that the administration sees itself as above the law. In Louisiana, Judge Feldman looked at Secretary Salazar's refusal to follow his ruling on resumption of drilling permits in the Gulf and found the Obama administration in contempt.
Having his most prized achievement hit the shoals and his obvious attempt to choke off all genuine domestic energy production briefly stymied, Obama might have written the week off, but events overseas caught him off-guard. Just weeks after lavishly entertaining the Tiananmen Square butcher at the White House, Obama decided to meddle in Egyptian affairs, in which a street uprising briefly caught the government unawares. The demonstrations triggered in Obama the sophomoric belief that he was watching a replay of The Battle of Algiers. While the slow-to-respond Mubarak soon caught on to the state of play in Cairo and deftly maneuvered his pieces on the board, applying and releasing pressure as needed to keep the sparks from becoming a conflagration and the people from turning their enmity on the military, he dragged the confusion on to the point where the people now want food and stability over chaos, looting, murder, shari,a and the unrealistic idea of democracy.
Americans always want others to be prosperous and free, but the most sensible of us know that wishing these things is insufficient to achieve them in the absence of the sort of soil in which capitalism and democracy can thrive. With the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran working to keep the Middle East at a boil and standing by to smash the forces of secular democracy as soon as possible, the soil is not ready for planting.
The demonstrations had barely begun when one of the Brotherhood's leaders called for the immediate closing of the Suez Canal and war with Israel, and no strong figure to take Mubarak's place seems to have appeared. So with his characteristic lack of concern for detail or his country's best interests, the president called for Mubarak to immediately step down. Mubarak agreed not to run for reelection, and his son is no longer in contention as his successor, but the almost-hero of Altgeld Gardens could not leave well enough alone.
The man who in 2009 in Cairo said, "So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed on one nation by any other" was now dictating to Mubarak the kind of government Egypt should have and when it should have it. Mubarak noted only the obvious: that if he stepped down immediately, the situation would devolve into chaos. The rulers of Egypt have a stake in its continued existence which supersedes Obama's adolescent moral preening. Had Obama any real interest in democracy in Egypt, he would have followed Bush's lead and done something to help bring that about before this.
We have not yet seen a detailed Obama position paper on who should fill what cabinet slots in Egypt or how its constitution might be rewritten, but the man who showed such contempt for our Constitution and laws -- from the appointment of czars and czarinas to the refusal to acknowledge the import of Judge Vinson's ruling -- was surely contending both his right to rule the U.S. and that that right includes the right to rule Egypt.
I think it's a good rule of thumb that whenever Obama begins a statement with "Let me be clear," he means quite the opposite of whatever follows. And someone might whisper in his ear that if you run around the world bowing deeply before foreign rulers and undermining your country's moral position and standing in the world, you cannot expect to have your imperious demands be taken seriously abroad.