An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself.
– attributed to Marcus Tullius Cicero.
We have been reading of late of the blizzard of scandals that has buffeted the Obama administration. Every week or so a major storm wracks the political climate in the U.S., so much so that it is hard not to grow somewhat blasé. Whether it’s the odium of the Benghazi betrayal and ensuing cover-up; or the IRS training its sights on conservative and pro-Israeli organizations; or the DOJ seizing the phone records of News sources; or the Attorney General caught lying (or conveniently forgetting) about a subpoena against a FOX News reporter; or NSA snooping on Verizon customers under a court order granted in April, as if replicating thriller novelist Brad Thor’s grisly tale about internal espionage, Black List; or a follow-up spy program code-named PRISM, expanding an operation begun under George W. Bush that was relatively measured, judicially redrawn and discontinued in 2007, but now, in the words of Matthew Vadum; “a warrantless surveillance program on steroids”—the time comes when we expect nothing less of a meretricious administration.
The scandals go back years: the Affordable Health Care Act passed in the middle of the night and encrypted in thousands of pages that nobody seems to have read; a multi-billion dollar stimulus project that didn’t stimulate anything; the defrauding of Chrysler’s secured creditors in favor of the UAW when the auto company went bankrupt; the Fast and Furious gun-running plan yet to be clarified by the Attorney General; the loans and grants to crony Green entrepreneurs who regularly fail to meet their goals and end up in default; the numbing disgrace of a Muslim outreach scheme that has seen known terrorists and dubious Islamic groups and individuals welcomed at the White House and operating to influence policy at the highest levels of government. The net result is always the same: a modest degree of public indignation followed by business as usual. Sarah Palin is on the money when she laments that “Obama supporters…naively and blindly (despite failure after failure and scandal after scandal) continue to give him the benefit of the doubt.” After all, this may be a scandal-prone administration, there have been others, let’s move on.
In an article for the Wall Street Journal titled “The Decline of the Obama Presidency,” Fred Barnes argues that Obama’s second term is coming undone not because of scandals but because of inept decisions made during his first term—his sclerotic partisanship, his alienating of potential allies, his broken promises. For Barnes, the scandals themselves are not the major factor in “the Obama breakdown,” though they “have worsened his plight and made recovery next to impossible.” Even The New York Times editorializes that the Obama administration has “lost all credibility.”
In a most important way, however, we have tended to miss the point. We do not have the leisure of indifference or jaded boredom. Concerned citizens have no choice but to grapple, in the succinct depiction of PJ Media’s Roger Simon, with “the absolute Orwellian madness that is the Obama administration.” The issue is not simply that the U.S. government under the suzerainty of Barack Obama is beset by a concatenation of scandals or has proved itself incompetent. Indeed, pace Barnes, poor decision making may be considered scandalous as well. But the real scandal is Barack Obama himself, a man demonstrably unfit to be president of the United States, who makes the hapless Jimmy Carter and the sleazy Bill Clinton look like choir boys. The scandal is that America is being led by a man about whom we know all too little, who has placed his salient records under seal (including his original birth certificate)—a man who, as Bill Schanefelt writes in in an article titled “President Photoshop” in American Thinker, has “left surprisingly few documented footprints in the sands of time”; who is assiduously liquidating the economy; who is gutting the military while rendering it a politically correct monstrosity; whose foreign policy lies in shambles as he cozies up to dictators and theocrats or sits on the sidelines twiddling his thumbs; and who gives every indication of having managed to evade the responsibilities not only of his position but of genuine adulthood.
One might be forgiven for thinking of him as a paragon of cluelessness, except for the fact that, like a spoiled child, he is determined to get his way and has mastered the art of persuasion all along the spectrum from the temper tantrum to surreptitious appeal to feigned innocence—whatever works. The prophecy of Isaiah has come to pass: “As for my people, children are their oppressors…”(3:12). The child in this case is certainly precocious, shows himself adroit at manipulating both his peers and his elders, and has been educated by a battery of mentors whose outlook on the world is indisputably malign—theft masking as “social justice” and “redistribution,” antisemitism, unchecked spending, ends justifying means, the evils of free speech, deception as virtue, self-indulgence rather than duty and obligation. The president has been well schooled in the arts of his masters. No one can deny that Obama is clever, but it is a cleverness in the service of moribund and irresponsible policies. This is Barack Obama, a curious amalgam of petty vindictiveness and ingratiating charm, freighted with a leftwing agenda that has faltered everywhere save in his own sectarian mind. Manifestly, he is not presidential material, not by any stretch of the most enamored imagination, as the country will belatedly learn to its own prohibitive cost.
America has put a disaster in the White House. “America, as my generation knew it,” writes Richard McKenzie Neal in America…Hanging By A Thread, “is but an abstract distortion of a time when our country was sustained by the substance of its people. Today’s general population seems to live in a vacuum of ignorance and complacency.” In effect, Obama is a reflection of Rousseau’s “general will,” the very image and compendium of a lax, frivolous, puerile and intellectually suborned public that has voted into office its own synoptic representation. But Obama has taken the political game a giant step further, enfeebling the republican structure of a once-great nation and governing in a manner that will eventually impoverish, peonize and endanger the same electorate that gave him their trust and adoration and placed the reins of power in his hands. They are the victims-in-waiting of what Michael Savage has aptly called Trickle Up Poverty.
For under Obama’s leadership, the nation is in full retreat on every front, both domestic and foreign. Domestically, the debt and the deficit are rising exponentially; real unemployment remains staggeringly high and remunerative jobs are drying up, except for the burgeoning public sector and government sinecures; fiat money continues to be printed; a proliferating tangle of business regulations is garroting the economy; entitlement spending is creating an underclass of dependents and parasites that weakens the fiber of the nation; confiscatory taxes are shrinking the Middle Class; environmentalism-gone-mad is sapping productivity; and FBI training manuals are being scrubbed of references to the Islamic source of local terrorism and thus increasing the likelihood of jihadist atrocities on American soil.
The international theater is equally menacing. Obama likes to boast that al-Qaeda is on the run. This is true in a way, for al-Qaeda is indeed running—straight toward us. North Korea is exporting its nuclear technology to America’s enemies while America dithers. China is militarizing and expanding its influence in the Pacific. Russia is flexing its geopolitical muscles. Turkey is aiming for a neo-Ottoman Caliphate. The Palestinians are bloodsuckers on American largesse, offering nothing in return but self-righteous intransigence, a false historical narrative and systemic Jew-hatred. Egypt, Libya and Syria are imploding—the first two thanks to American meddling and the last—well, we recall that Hillary Clinton lauded Assad as a “reformer.” Iraq and Afghanistan are going rogue. Terror-sponsoring Iran is on the verge of nuclear capability and has made no secret of its enmity toward the U.S. Meanwhile Obama does nothing but take vacations, preen on television, switch to campaign mode, target his local adversaries, appoint fools, political dandiprats and ideological doppelgängers to positions of power, and blab about “red lines” to no effect but his own embarrassment. “When the blast of war is in our ears,” exhorts Shakespeare’s Henry V, “then imitate the action of the tiger/Stiffen the sinews…/then lend the eye a terrible aspect.” Obama has imitated the action of the sheep, relaxed the sinews, and gazed benignly upon our enemies.
Apart from pursuing a narrow and rigid social(ist) agenda, Obama is in way beyond his depth, especially in the field of foreign relations. Arguably, this may be his intention, to render the United States unrecognizable to itself and ultimately to turn it into an international laughing stock, a waning power no longer to be taken seriously. Given his “disdain for his country,” writes David Horowitz in the explosive pamphlet How Obama Betrayed America, Obama “has set in motion policies meant to make America far from indispensable—a diminished nation that ‘leads from behind’.” But Obama’s glaring mismanagement of America’s interests may also indicate, perhaps no less plausibly, a feckless and myopic understanding of realpolitik and a complete inability to play with the big boys. His political immaturity coupled with his natural cynicism is equaled only by his bloated self-regard, and America’s adversaries have taken definitive advantage of the debilitating flaws of his temperament.
There should be no doubt about this in any rational mind. The various scandals plaguing the current administration are distractions. Poor decision making is a common trait—Eisenhower’s self-admitted mishandling of the Suez Crisis, Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs, Carter’s support of the Iranian Shia revolution, and so on. What we are observing now is different by an order of magnitude, a kind of logarithmic spike on the scandal scale. There is a catastrophe afflicting the U.S. and it is summed up and embodied in the person of Barack Obama—his election to the Oval Office, the policies he has subsequently enacted, the vectors of his character on daily display, the progressively devastating consequences of his tenure. “Let us make no mistake about this,” as the president is fond of saying. The greatest scandal of them all is the present occupant of the White House.
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