Add another historic ‘first’ to Barack Obama’s presidency … but is it constitutional?
This week, Barack Obama becomes the first president of the United States to chair the United Nations 15-member Security Council. On the docket for Chairman Obama? Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, peacekeeping, climate change, and a possible meeting between Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
A report from CBS News stated that Obama “is expected to be received with open arms by a diplomatic corps, which sees him as an agent of change in U.S. policy from confrontation to negotiation,” and noted that he may even receive a standing ovation from the 120 foreign heads of state in attendance.
Golly. Good thing the president doesn’t have an ego to pump up.
Quite honestly, I expect the week’s events at the U.N. to mirror previous such events — a dash of America-bashing, a dollop of anti-Semitism, and a sprig of socialism. The question I have, however, is whether Obama’s position as Security Council chair is constitutional.
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
For those who don’t recognize it, that’s the Emoluments Clause of the United States Constitution, found in Article I, Section 9, and designed specifically to protect our republic against any foreign influence.
Admittedly, its pertinence here may be a bit of a stretch, as the clause was originally drafted into the Constitution out of an abundance of caution with regard to the commonplace practice attributed to foreign heads of state and monarchs at the time of presenting gifts to visiting American dignitaries. For example, Benjamin Franklin was showered with art and other gifts by Louis XVI while serving as minister plenipotentiary in France, John Adams was presented with various celebratory documents while in England, and John Jay was actually given an entire living, breathing horse while in Spain. To this day, the Emoluments Clause is at the heart of congressional stalwarts such as the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act, which permits elected officials to accept gifts from foreign states and officials on certain occasions.
Still, the inherent reasoning behind the clause remains the same. Alexander Hamilton wrote, in Federalist No. 22, that among the many advantages of a republican form of government like that installed in the fledgling United States of America, one of the chief weaknesses “is that they afford too easy an inlet to foreign corruption.”
Quite honestly, I’ve been a longtime advocate of extracting the entire United Nations complex from New York City. Gone are the days of true coalitions. When tragedy strikes in the form of a tsunami or ethnic cleansing, the world already looks to the United States for intervention and help (even if they hate us for it). The United Nations has lost its relevance, and has instead become a hotbed for corruption, hypocrisy and elitism. To paraphrase what I once overheard someone say in a smoky Bronx drinking establishment following Game Seven of the 2004 National League Championship Series, the U.N. has become nothing short of an auction block where fiery, anti-American dictators can auction off their votes to the highest bidder.
President Barack Obama’s involvement as chair of the U.N. Security Council is everything that our founders did not want from a public official, nonetheless a president of the United States. Those men gave everything so that we could be free, so that we could be removed from the corrupting influence of oppressive foreign powers — and now, not only do we welcome them with open arms, but our president has decided to lead the group in a big, globalist rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
Would an Emoluments Clause argument hold muster? I don’t know. But either way, regardless of whether Chairman Obama’s new role is constitutional or not, I certainly don’t like it. And I doubt our founders would like it, either.