Our Presidents may or may not merit our respect. The Presidential office certainly does.
A few weeks ago Tim Huelskamp used what some consider inflammatory language concerning President Obama. It may or may not have been unprofessional. If it was, it was in keeping with a great American tradition. Huelskamp didn’t yell fire in a crowded theatre or threaten assassination. He exercised his right to free speech.
I wouldn’t have used Huelskamp’s words, but I’ve seen and read worse things said of Presidents. Clark Clifford, one of Lyndon Johnson’s secretaries of defense, once described Ronald Reagan as an “amiable dunce.” Clifford was considered to be an absolutely brilliant man. He championed the policy of mutually assured nuclear destruction, a brilliant strategy if there ever was one. Interestingly, history records that the “amiable dunce” took the measure of the Soviet Union without firing a shot. George McClellan, architect of our Civil War’s Peninsula Campaign and champion of the strategic retreat in the face of an inferior enemy force, wrote to his wife in 1861, describing Abraham Lincoln as “the original gorilla.” George Herbert Walker Bush, a decorated war hero, was called a wimp. Lyndon Johnson, who fell prey to superior intelligence of Robert McNamara, Clark Clifford, and others in his brain trust, had to listen to the almost daily taunts of “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” Bill Clinton was called “Slick Willie.” At 5’11” and 260 pounds, Grover Cleveland could have played nose tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs. Some called him the “stuffed prophet.” Others called him “Uncle Jumbo.” James Madison was only 5’4”. His political enemies occasionally called him “Little Jemmy.”
How did the Republic ever survive these onslaughts? You don’t suppose it’s been because the peoples’ right to freedom of speech is far more important than some notion of imperial superiority, do you? Our founders seemed to think so. They thought so highly of free speech they enshrined it as an addendum to our Constitution.
I came close to voting for Barack Obama in 2008. I actually sent contributions to his Presidential campaign. My accountant, who is also my wife, didn’t say so, but I think she was a bit miffed when the $200 donation to the Obama for President Campaign hit our credit card.
There was a lot I liked about him then. There’s a lot I like about him now. I loved “hope and change”. I was naïve enough to believe he could really make the oceans recede. But I decided not to vote for him. What changed my mind?
I’m a pro-lifer. It’s an important consideration for me when I enter the voting booth. I don’t ask people to agree with me about this, nor do I ask for their advice when I go to the polls. Once I step into the voting booth my detractors have no control over me. They may think I’m uninformed, and that’s alright. I think there are a lot of over-informed people who pretend they vote for the right reasons.
I abandoned my belief in Barack Obama because he deceived me and millions of pro-lifers. There’s no delicate, polite way to put it. During the campaign he tried to curry favor from us. He told us he understood how we felt and said he had great empathy for us. Then I checked the record. In 2003, as a member of a state senatorial committee in Illinois, he was one of the deciding votes against the “born alive” bill, which would have prohibited Illinois abortions in cases when a “procedure’ was complicated if the “fetus” survived an attempted abortion. He told pro-lifers like me that he voted to kill the bill because he claimed it didn’t contain provisions to protect abortion rights legalized in Roe v Wade. It was a lie and he knew it. Now, it’s one thing to vote in line with one’s principles; it’s another when one deceives a prospective supporter to gain votes he or she would otherwise lose. That’s deceit of the highest order.
I withdrew my support and asked for my money back. I never got it.
I once believed Barack Obama’s narrative about transparency and honesty, but facts are stubborn things. Ask whistleblowers like Thomas Drake. Ask yourself why Barack Obama, who promised to be the most transparent President in history, has used antiquated law to squelch dissent more often than any President in our history. Ask yourself why he feels so compelled to bully the Supreme Court into submission. Read Federalist 78 and do your own thinking.
I will never lose respect for the Presidential office, but I also deserve respect. I am a Citizen.
The first words of our constitution read “We the People.” Barack Obama doesn’t reign supreme, nor does any other President. We do, and we also deserve respect, not deceit.