Is Obama Just or Unjust?
President Barack Obama is not a "nice guy."
From Republican campaign strategist Ed Rollins and Republican House Speaker John Boehner to Republican presidential contenders John McCain and Mitt Romney, far too many Republicans have fueled the popular perception that Obama is a nice guy.
This perception is an illusion. But it is a most dangerous illusion, for it has permitted our President to advance his militantly leftist agenda.
In The Republic, Socrates engages several friends in a discussion over the nature of justice and its relationship to the good life. The question to which they attend is:
Which is more beneficial for its possessor, justice or injustice?
Glaucon, a brother of Plato, contends that the unjust man is actually better off than the just man -- so long as he is not recognized as an unjust man. Injustice is superior to justice, Glaucon reasons, because the unjust man knows no limits while the just man imposes constraints upon himself. So, for example, the just person will abide by the terms of a contract even after he realizes that he may have more to gain by violating them. The unjust man, in sharp contrast, will have no such reservations.
But if the unjust man is recognized as such, then others will not only deprive him of the opportunity to treat them unjustly; in addition to this social ostracism, he could as well face legal punishment.
To substantiate his position, Glaucon alludes to the legendary figure of Gyges.
Gyges was said to have been a poor, obscure shepherd who happens to stumble upon a magical ring, a ring that endows him with the ability to become invisible at will. With his new found power, Gyges manages to have the King murdered, seduce his wife, and assume control over the kingdom.
Glaucon's point is clear. As long as a person is thought by all to be just, his unjust character is essentially invisible. He then has both the ability and the will to pursue his wants at all costs -- including and particularly the cost of treating others unjustly.
Thus, injustice is better than justice, and the unjust person is better off than the just person -- as long as injustice goes undetected.
This debate that transpired close to 2500 years ago assumes new significance in light of the rise of Barack Obama.
Obama became nationally recognized eight years ago when he gave the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention. Immediately, something like a trans-partisan consensus emerged on the speech's inspirational character, and both Democrat and non-Democrat alike began to view Obama as a rising star, a "new" kind of politician.
Even in 2008, when Obama became a presidential contender in the Democratic primaries, few and far between were those Republicans who were disposed to assail him with just a fraction of the aggression with which they attacked Hillary Clinton. In fact, Obama was regularly being depicted by Republican commentators as the beleaguered contestant in that race, the unsuspecting and undeserving victim of the Clinton killing machine.
Then Obama became the Democrats' presidential nominee.
He became the focus of Republicans' attacks, it is true, but even so, the tendency on the part of his opponents -- including John McCain -- to qualify their criticisms with assurances that Obama was a good and talented man persisted.
When Obama became the first black American president, it seemed that the entire planet erupted in rapture.
And Republicans went right along with it, joining the celebration of this "historic" election.
Obama's election to the office of the presidency promised to redeem America of her checkered racial history. He was going to be our first "post-racial" president, a bipartisan politician who would usher in a new millennium full of "hope and change."
To this day -- after four years of a disastrous first term comprised of effort after effort to fulfill his promise to "fundamentally transform" the country -- Obama's personal likeability numbers remain reasonably high. And though it has been a couple of months since he has said as much, even the presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had expressed on more than one occasion his admiration for Obama as a person: "He's a nice guy; he's just in over his head."
Romney is no longer referring to Obama as a nice guy. Indeed, he should not, for in doing so, he flatters no one while revealing himself to be astonishingly naïve.
Given the relentless campaign that Obama is currently waging against him, and, specifically, the latest super PAC ad that implicates Romney in the death of the wife of a steel worker, it is no longer possible (if it ever was) to sustain either the claim that Obama is a nice guy or the claim that Romney really believes that he is a nice guy.
Obama is most emphatically not a nice guy.
Some of us -- those of us who actually looked into Obama's past -- have always known this.
In Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, the lead character's love interest tells him: "It's not who we are underneath, but what we do, that defines us." Nice guys, or good guys, do not do the sorts of things that Obama has done over the course of his career.
A nice guy does not ally himself with all manner of anti-Americans, from unrepentant domestic terrorists like Bill Ayers to self-avowed "Black Liberation" theologians like Jeremiah Wright.
More tellingly, a nice guy doesn't ally himself with anti-Americans while trying to convince voters that he is actually a great American patriot, let alone someone who deserves to become the President of the United States of America.
In other words, a nice guy is not a person who is chronically deceptive.
A nice guy does not make promises -- like the promise of a "transparent" administration -- that he does not keep.
A nice guy does not seek, as Obama successfully sought to do in 1996 while running for a State Senate office in Illinois, to eliminate three of his Democratic rivals from the ballot while invalidating the legions of signatures that they accumulated in voters' petitions.
A nice guy doesn't use his position of power to bully the operators of businesses and coerce millions upon millions of people to acquiesce in "the fundamental transformation" -- the destruction, as David Limbaugh more aptly puts it -- of their homeland, their lives.
A nice guy doesn't exacerbate racial tensions by availing himself of "the race card" whenever it suits his purposes to do so.
And a nice guy most certainly does not exploit the tragedy of a person's death by baselessly accusing his competitor of being complicit in it.
Like Gyges, Obama has heretofore managed to preserve for himself the image of the just man. But unlike Gyges, that façade is cracking.
If we would only open our eyes and connect the dots, we will readily discover for ourselves that Obama is not a just man at all.
Jack Kerwick, Ph.D. blogs at Beliefnet.com: At the Intersection of Faith & Culture. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, friend him on Facebook, and follow him at Twitter.