Obama’s Bullying Pulpit
This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published April 6, 2012 on The Washington Times website.
I don’t know which was more embarrassing: Barack Obama trying to bully the Supreme Court – again – or The Washington Post trying to clean up after him.
Warning the court not to rule against Obamacare, Mr. Obama said it would be an “unprecedented, extraordinary step” of judicial activism. He chided conservatives for long complaining about judicial activism, “that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.”
Because this hasn’t ever happened at the Supreme Court, according to the man who lectured about constitutional law at the University of Chicago, court watchers must have been smoking something since 1803, when Chief Justice John Marshall established judicial review in Marbury v. Madison.
Mr. Obama knows all about judicial activism. He’s fine with the court’s Roe v. Wade (1973) decision creating a “right” to abortion and overturning all abortion laws, a ruling Justice Byron White called “an exercise of raw judicial power.” Mr. Obama’s Justice Department is working to have a court overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, which passed in 1996 with overwhelming, bipartisan majorities.
His warning to the court was a shocker, and The Washington Times and Wall Street Journal ran it on their front pages above the fold. Not so The Washington Post, which relegated this mighty clash of the federal branches to Page A5. Writer David Nakamura noted that “Obama made his argument in unusually blunt language that was rare for a sitting president.” Indeed. Even Franklin D. Roosevelt, who threatened to “pack the court” when it wouldn’t rubber-stamp his New Deal, didn’t dare explicitly claim the court could not overturn legislation that it found unconstitutional. Or maybe he did and Mr. Obama is channeling him.
The next day, Mr. Obama did some damage control with help from his friends. In an editorial headlined “A more judicious view,” The Post summarized Mr. Obama’s clarification: “He made clear that he was not questioning the court’s power to strike down a statute, just that exercising it in this situation, involving Congress’ ability to regulate commerce, would be remarkable.”
Oh, that’s what he meant. The Post then gently chided Mr. Obama like a rambunctious child, advising him, “Given the power of the bully pulpit, presidents are wise to be, well, more judicious in commenting about the high court.”
Yes, sounding like a president instead of a frustrated Caesar would be better.
In 2010, Mr. Obama bullied the court in front of the nation during his State of the Union address, brazenly mischaracterizing the justices’ Citizens United ruling. He had Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius bully pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies that wouldn’t knuckle under to Obamacare. He has made a sport of bullying Israel. He is bullying the oil companies and crushing the coal industry. Recently, he sent Hillary Rodham Clinton around the world to bully nations that won’t buy the homosexual political agenda.
The other day, he even bullied journalists at his fawnathon press conference, telling them how to report. Face it, folks. America elected a bully in 2008, and he shows no sign of mellowing.
Mr. Obama has stepped on the Constitution six ways from Sunday since the day he took power. Speaking of Sunday, Mr. Obama once again made Christians suspicious of his professions of faith when he told a group of clergy on Wednesday, according to CNS News, that Easter reminds us of “all that Christ endured – not just as a Son of God, but as a human being.”
“A Son of God,” not “the Son of God.” It could have been a slip of the tongue, or perhaps it revealed more than he intended. The New Testament says God has only one Son, and it’s Jesus Christ, through Whom “all things were made” (John: 1:3).
I’d be inclined to give Mr. Obama the benefit of the doubt, because everyone misspeaks, but he has let slip other clues before and after gaining the bully pulpit.
On Sept. 5, 2008, on ABC television, Mr. Obama answered a question from former Clinton press secretary George Stephanopoulos with the line, “You’re absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith.” Mr. Stephanopoulos quickly saved Mr. Obama by noting that he meant to say his “Christian” faith.
Three times in 2010, Mr. Obama omitted the words “by their Creator” when reciting the passage about unalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence. In November 2010, he said the national motto was “E pluribus unum” (out of many, one) instead of “In God We Trust.”
In 2009, in Cairo, Mr. Obama quoted from the “Holy Koran,” used his middle name, Hussein, and indicated that the United States and Muslim nations have the same commitment to tolerance and freedom.
Also in 2009, he told a press conference in Turkey, “Although we have a large Christian population, we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values. I think modern Turkey was founded with a similar set of values.”
WallBuilders, a Christian research group headed by David Barton, has compiled “America’s Most Biblically Hostile U.S. President,” an extensive list of Mr. Obama’s statements and actions that suggest less than fidelity toward Christianity or the Bible and a weakness for Islam. Taken as a whole, it’s devastating.
On March 6, 2007, New York Times writer Nicholas D. Kristof wrote in “Obama: Man of the World”:
“Mr. Obama recalled the opening lines of the Arabic call to prayer, reciting them with a first-rate accent. In a remark that seemed delightfully uncalculated (it’ll give Alabama voters heart attacks), Mr. Obama described the call to prayer as ‘one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset.’ “
Here are the opening lines of that prayer, courtesy of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission: “Allah is Supreme! Allah is Supreme! Allah is Supreme! Allah is Supreme! I witness that there is no god but Allah! I witness that there is no god but Allah! I witness that Muhammad is his prophet!”
To a devout Christian, this “call” is not pretty, however it once sounded to a young boy being raised as a Muslim in Indonesia.
The bully pulpit, whatever it once was, has never sounded quite like this.