Why are we so surprised? When a pattern has been firmly established, and has a documented history, there need be no reason for astonishment. When considering the modus operandi of the current president, one should automatically assume a short expiration date on anything said aloud, written or implied. The Heritage Foundation published a great piece on the mercurial and capricious nature of President Obama’s “leadership” style. Needless to say, it leaves the nation wanting much, much more.
In 2005, then-Senator Obama took to the floor of the Senate with a clear understanding of the ramifications of such a drastic step as altering the balance of power by implementing the “Nuclear Option” as Republican senators had threatened:
“I urge my Republican colleagues to not go through with changing these rules. In the long run it is not a good result for either party. One day Democrats will be in the majority again, and this rule change will be no fairer to a Republican minority than it is to a Democratic minority. Mr. President, I sense the talk of the “Nuclear Option” is more about power than about fairness. I believe that some of my colleagues propose this rule change because they can get away with it rather than they know it’s good for our democracy.”
When someone claims the mantle of leadership, but shows courage and conviction only as long as it is politically convenient and expedient, the title of “leader” is a false one at best and at worst, a destructively deceptive one. Barack Obama has proven time and again that he will say anything at any time, so long as it benefits him politically. Worse still, he will profess to believe and espouse anything, so long as it benefits him politically – and only so long. His most deeply held views flip and flop more quickly than a fry cook at breakfast.
I wonder who would win in a debate: Senator Obama, or President Obama? I suspect President Obama is the only one who knows the real answer for sure. Ah, for the idealistic, hopeful naivete of youth. Cynicism in old age is so tragically gauche.
As instructive illustration, he maintained that his twenty-year relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright was one that was so important to him, such a fundamental part of his past and his identity that when video of the reverend’s inflammatory, demagogic sermons at Obama’s home church emerged, Obama claimed, “I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother.” However, as soon as the good reverend became a drag on his poll numbers, he was pitched overboard like Jonah.
In 1996, during his first run for public office, Obama’s view on same-sex marriage was “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.” Fast-forward to the eve of the 2008 election, and his view of same-sex marriage in November of 2008 was “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage.” In the months before his re-election battle with Mitt Romney, with his poll numbers flagging, and the mood of the country shifting, on May 9, 2012 Obama announced his “evolution” on his deeply-held position and declared that “I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”
His values are informed not by core convictions, but by political expediency. His judgment is ruled not by reason and rational analysis of relevant facts, but by mathematical political calculation. His words are not intended to express passionately held beliefs, but are instead carefully formulated statements designed to build as much support for his plan as possible, and to avoid or minimize any negative consequence while giving him maximum opportunity to claim credit if his proposal succeeds. He is a hollow man, ready to be filled with the most popular flavor of the day, changing direction as rapidly as the proverbial weather vane. His flip-flop on the nuclear option is merely the most recent iteration.
“But,” the casual observer may note, “every politician does that. They’re all the same.” It is true – to a degree. But clarity emerges by looking over his past, in the Illinois Senate, where he voted “Present” rather than “Aye” or “Nay” on 129 occasions, many times on issues of significance, such as trying juveniles as adults, or abortion, and a clear pattern of opportunism rather than conviction emerges.
Where an average politician may well possess underlying values that he acknowledges as the driving force behind his vote, and votes in ways that reflects those values, Obama’s votes of “Present”, especially on critical issues, reflect the absence of those firm values. One can only trust that Obama viewed many votes not as hard choices to be considered by weighing all the evidence and reaching a conclusion that would be the morally right choice, or at least reflect the will of the majority of his constituency, but rather as politically risky, inconvenient traps to be avoided.
From this one can only conclude (a fact sadly borne out by events) that Obama is the type of leader who has no lines which he will not cross in an effort to pass–or impede–policy and legislation, (see Obamacare) and whose only restraining principle is fear of political blowback.
Citizens in a free republic have much to fear from this type of leader, because when such a leader has political cover and opportunity (see Obama’s first two years in office with control of the House of Representatives, a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, and high approval ratings) there is no limit to what they will attempt.
Worse still, when such a leader has no political cover and is beset by challenges (such as Obama’s embrace of the nuclear option on the heels of the complete collapse of Obamacare), they have nothing to lose. Nothing restrains them. Certainly not a centuries-old document drafted by long-dead men from a forgotten past.