The Obama Disconnect

Whatever else is said of our President, he does not let his principles of governance interfere with the implementation of  his policies. Let's not even bother with the principle that terror suspects must not be tried in military courts or the principle that there be no rendition of terror suspects. And Gitmo? That hardly rises to the level of a principle. These are some major pronouncements that Obama made regarding his administration's governance.

1. The principle of Transparency

My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.

The reality of transparency

Kim Strassel, in a Wall Street Journal article, writes

Among Barack Obama's first actions as president was signing a memo pledging his administration to "an unprecedented level of openness in government." But according to a House hearing and outside watchdog groups, those promises have so far been a giant bust.

Televising healthcare negotiations on C-SPAN?

Making White House contacts with lobbyists more open?

No secret meetings with lobbyists at a nearby coffee shop to avoid official records of meetings?

And now the call for transparency in the ObamaCare waiver process by Orin Hatch (Finance Committee) and David Camp (Ways and Means).

2. The principle that lobbyist influence in the legislative processes of government must be kept to a minimum

Barack Obama, November 3, 2007:

One year from now, we have the chance to tell all those corporate lobbyists that the days of them setting the agenda in Washington are over. I have done more to take on lobbyists than any other candidate in this race - and I've won. I don't take a dime of their money, and when I am President, they won't find a job in my White House.

The reality of lobbyist influence

Although Barack Obama promised lobbyists would not serve in his White House, and issued executive orders restricting former lobbyists, more than 40 ex-lobbyists now populate top jobs in the Obama administration, including three Cabinet secretaries, the Director of Central Intelligence, and many senior White House officials.

Here is the working list of ex-lobbyists in the Obama administration.

3. The principle that signing statements should only be used to clarify implementation of congressional  legislation

While it is legitimate for a president to issue a signing statement to clarify his understanding of ambiguous provisions of statutes and to explain his view of how he intends to faithfully execute the law, it is a clear abuse of power to use such statements as a license to evade laws that the president does not like or as an end-run around provisions designed to foster accountability,

The reality is that signing statements were used to redact congressional legislation.  (Glenn Greenwald, Salon)

He punctuated his answer as follows: "we're not going to use signing statements as a way of doing an end run around Congress." It just doesn't get any clearer than that.

But on Friday, Obama did exactly that which he vowed in that answer he would never do. When signing the budget bill into law, he attached a signing statement objecting to some provisions as an encroachment on executive power but still vowing to obey them (such as restrictions on transferring Guantanamo detainees), but then explicitly stated that he would ignore the provision of this new law that de-funds his so-called "czars" (which are really little more than glorified presidential advisers). Declaring that the Executive has the unfettered "authority to supervise and oversee the executive branch" -- i.e., asserting another critical aspect of the "unitary theory of the Executive" -- Obama declared that "the executive branch will construe [the de-funding provision] not to abrogate these Presidential prerogatives." In other words, we're going to ignore that mandate because we believe it's unconstitutional: he's going to use funds for exactly the purpose that Congress, in a bill he signed into law, flatly prohibited.

4. The principle that the president does not have the authority to unilaterally order military action except in the case of a national emergency

In a 2007 interview with The Boston Globe, then Senator Obama declared:

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

The reality is that the president has unilaterally (without consent of congress) ordered military action justified as  humanitarian intervention

However, as president in March 2011, Barack Obama authorized military action against the Libyan regime without consulting Congress, a decision which drew heavy fire on Capitol Hill.

4. The principle that national sovereignty must not be subverted

In July 2009 the president made a striking defense of the principle of national sovereignty in a speech he gave at the New Economic School in Moscow. President Obama spoke in eloquent terms of:

America's interest in an international system that advances cooperation while respecting the sovereignty of all nations. State sovereignty must be a cornerstone of international order. Just as all states should have the right to choose their leaders, states must have the right to borders that are secure, and to their own foreign policies. That is true for Russia, just as it is true for the United States. Any system that cedes those rights will lead to anarchy.                                                 

The reality is that the president has subsumed national sovereignty under the aegis of UN and the ideal of world government.

Herbert London of the Hudson Institute spells out the Obama Doctrine which weakens national sovereignty.

As I see it, the Obama Doctrine has four central themes each in its way related to diminished national sovereignty.

The first is a reliance on multilateral organizations such as the United Nations. Elevating the U.N. ambassador's role to a cabinet position was a tell-tale sign.

Most significantly, channeling U.S. goals through the Security Council, notwithstanding the veto of any one nation, has been a central focus of this administration. This is the case in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, as well as the attempt to prevent the nuclear ambition of Iran.

Second the Human Rights Council. Despite the fact the commission is populated by the most egregious abusers of human rights, the Obama administration reversed the decision of previous presidents and joined this organization, claiming it was in the national interest to monitor cases the commission is considering.

Third, the Obama team believes it must apologize for America's previous foreign policy decisions. From Berlin to Cairo, President Obama has made it clear a new dawn is rising in which the mistakes of the past will be redressed.

Instead of an unequivocal defense of the national interest, the administration offers mea culpas. The assertion of American power and its stabilizing influence has been subordinated to multilateral understanding and the appeasement of self declared enemies.

Fourth, the government's suit against Arizona legislation which calls for the enforcement of the law against illegal aliens is a demonstration of the belief that borders do not matter and sovereignty is in the eye of the beholder.

If a state is unable to secure its border against illegal entrants because of a federal lawsuit, the message is unalloyed: this administration will not support state efforts to defend its borders.

The impetus for these positions is the belief that globalization, i.e., a reliance on multilateral arrangements, will provide greater security for the U.S. than the unilateral assertion of American will. That there isn't a shred of evidence to support the theory is irrelevant since true believers on the Obama team are pursuing this agenda relentlessly. 

5. The principle that it against the precepts of our National identity to disrespect and burn the holy texts of any religion.

With respect to the individual down in Florida, let me just say - well, let me repeat what I said a couple of days ago: The idea that we would burn the sacred texts of someone else's religion is contrary to what this country stands for. It's contrary to what this country - this nation was founded on.

The reality is that translations of the Holy Bible were burned in Afghanistan under military order and the Commander in Chief of the military is President Obama..

Military personnel confiscated, threw away, and ultimately burned, Bibles that were printed in the two most common Afghan languages amid concern they would be used to try to convert Afghans, a Defense Department spokesman said Tuesday.

The unsolicited Bibles sent by a church in the United States were confiscated about a year ago at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan because military rules forbid troops of any religion from proselytizing while deployed there.

Let us just say that our Commander in Chief never lets his principles interfere with his M.O.  It's just the Chicago way.  Or is it?  Elevating Islam?  Subsuming National Sovereignty?  His unspoken  principles appear inviolate.
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