Barack Obama seems to have a pattern of using ceremonial or stately events as opportunities to ambush and humiliate people. This behavior is unpresidential and reveals a vindictive streak that makes Richard Nixon look like Mister Rogers.
A few examples of Obama's taking pleasure in administering public pain to others:
During the State of the Union Address, he chose to direct his ire at the justices of the Supreme Court, located in the front rows. After the Supreme Court issued a ruling in favor of the First Amendment regarding political speech, Barack Obama famously chose to dress down the black-clad justices before the entire nation -- miscomprehending the law and the ruling in a fit of (un)presidential petulance. The embarrassing spectacle was prompted by a view that the court's ruling may make it easier for opponents of the president and Democrats to make their views known to the public.
Regardless of Obama's pique, it was wrong on so many levels that it earned a rebuke from the Supreme Court historian, who had enthusiastically voted for him. The noted historian said it "was really unusual in my mind to see the President going after the Supreme Court in such a forum." That is change for you. He predicted that justices may refuse to attend in the future because "you don't go to be insulted. I can't see the Justices wanting to be there and be insulted by the President."
Their appearance was a mark of respect for the government of the United States, broken into three branches but united in the goal of helping fellow Americans. Barack Obama did not reciprocate the respect -- and demeaned himself (though his narcissism and his cheering section entourage would shield him from such self-reflection) and the dignity of the office by needlessly ambushing the most august institution of the land.
He seems to have a penchant for ambushing financial executives, too -- or people he calls "fat cats" -- after he cashes their campaign checks. But he does like to tag people with labels.
While purportedly holding a meeting to work with financial executives to help stabilize financial markets, Barack Obama could not resist taunting them with the threat that "I'm the only thing standing between you and the pitchforks." That was not why they came to a meeting supposedly called to work together to resolve problems in the financial sector. He did the same with doctors, though. He co-opted the American Medical Association to get them on board for ObamaCare and then blasted doctors for, among other sins, taking kids' tonsils out because doctors are greedy. While meeting with a Democrat wavering on casting a yes vote on ObamaCare, he chose not to engage him with reasons, but instead belittled him in front of others by telling him, "Don't think we're not keeping score, brother." Was this form of public emasculation really necessary? No...but Obama has the itch, and it must be scratched.
He chose to snub a variety of foreign leaders, including then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, with whom he denied a diplomatic meeting during a visit (a snub that may have hurt Brown politically at home). Also, Obama walked out of a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to have dinner with his family -- and refused a photo-op, joint news conference, or proper welcome, to boot. Both were democratic leaders, yet Obama bows to dictators such as the Saudi King and has a hug for the thug from Caracas. The ambushing of Netanyahu may have had a goal of also hurting him with voters in Israel, who treasure their relationship with America. The ambush did not work. Israelis don't like being ambushed -- they have had plenty of experience with such treatment. The public rallied to Netanyahu after the disgraceful treatment meted out to him by Barack Obama.
Can we forget the lack of graciousness when Obama told John McCain during the health care summit that he convened, supposedly in the spirit of comity, that "the election is over"?
Was it necessary to allude that racism led Boston policemen to confront Obama's friend, Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, over what appeared to be a breaking and entering? For all the nation to see, he slurred Boston policemen as racists. Why?
In the hands of this president, the bully pulpit is used not to persuade and convince, but to bully into a public pulp those he considers his foes. At a groundbreaking for a car battery plant funded by "stimulus money" that was located in the district of Republican Congressman Peter Hoekstra (who opposed the stimulus), Obama could not resist the urge to try to humiliate Hoekstra, who also was at the opening.
There are some folks who want to go back -- who think we should return to the policies that helped to lead to this recession," Obama said later in his comments honoring a new advanced battery factory being built by the company LG Chem. "Some made the political calculation that it's better to obstruct than lend a hand. They said no to the tax cuts, they said no to small business loans, they said no to clean energy projects. It doesn't stop them from coming to ribbon cuttings -- but that's OK."
This was not the first time he chose to turn a celebration into an ambush, a party into a shooting gallery.
The president was flying to Peoria to appear with the CEO of Caterpillar at a plant. Obama told reporters that he had spoken to the CEO, who he said assured him that he was going to rehire laid off employees as soon as the stimulus bill was passed. This was a surprise to the CEO, who, after the Obama appearance at the plant was over, was asked by the reporters about this so-called pledge. He stumbled over the issue -- who wants to publicly call the president a liar? But the CEO said that Obama's statement was not true, and there were no plans to rehire people. He was ambushed by Barack Obama.
So was Republican Congressman Aaron Schock, whose district encompassed the plant. Obama invited Schock along on Air Force One for the trip. In his speech, Obama singled out Schock for another Obama ambush, telling his audience to visit with Schock and encourage him "to do the right thing for the people of Illinois." In this case, Obama's ambush killed two birds with one stone -- a rare sign of efficiency on the part of our competency-challenged President.
The body count of Obama's ambushes will grow in the years ahead. How does this help to bring about the civility that Obama preaches should be part of our civic discourse? Of course, it doesn't. Hypocrisy is Obama's trademark. His style of ambushing and humiliating people is a sign of something deeper and darker in Obama's psyche, in his emotional makeup. He is vindictive and enjoys the spectacle of belittling people in front of others and in front of cameras.
The milk of human kindness does not flow in this man's veins, but rather something bitterer -- a type of personal poison that he enjoys spraying on others.
This does not dignify the office or the man. But he doesn't seem to care, and the courtier press that covers him with glory doesn't, either.
Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.